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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The conversation (released in 1974) - starring Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams and Robert Duvall, dealing with wire-tapping

This movie is directed by Francis Coppola, staring the legendary, Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams and Robert Duvall. This deals with the pitfalls of phone tapping and communication surveillance. This movie was released right after the Watergate scandal and has used the same equipment used by the Nixon Administration to spy on his opponents.
Harry Caul is a talented Surveillance expert who undertakes communication surveillance for a fee. He taps and listens to others conversation and is a much sought after person in this field. Caul a devout catholic has no emotional quotient within him. He avoids real contact with people and keeps away from crowds. He is paranoid about security that his apartment has a triple lock door and he himself works behind a wire mesh. Very shabbily dressed and distant, Caul has alienated his colleague and girl friend completely. But among all this paranoia we see Caul as an vulnerable person who is tormented by guilt of his profession.
He gets an assignment of listening and recording the conversation of two people who are having an affair. Ann and Marc are being listened to on the instructions of Ann's husband who is identified as the director. While listening to the conversation, Caul hears them saying “he would have killed us if he had a chance” . He thinks that the director would have the couple killed.

His earlier assignment in the East coast had ended up in deaths and Caul tormented by that incident, fears for the couple's life. He refuses to hand over the tape to the directors aide. While attending a convention he finds that the tapes are stolen and rushes to confront the director. He is paid his due and is curtly dismissed. A scared Caul reaches the hotel where Ann and Marc had agreed to meet and takes up the adjoining room eagerly listening through the wall with his equipment. Suddenly he hears screams and on rushing to the room he finds blood prints on the glass panes. A distraught Caul faints and is revived by the police.
Caul reaches the directors office to confront him and to his surprise finds Ann and Marc alive and well. He hears from the secretary that the director was killed in an accident. The truth finally dawns on him that Ann's sentence was a result of her rationalizing the directors murder.
Caul watches Ann and Marc along with the aide rushing from the press conference asking for an inquiry in to the directors death. Caul's presence unnerves the murderers.
Caul is called by the aide who now works for Ann. He warns him that his apartment is bugged and warns him not to tell the truth. Caul ransacks his apartment for the bug and cannot find any. In the last enduring scene Caul slumps defeated and lost while the Saxophone plays on. This movie is considered a classic and was nominated for 3 Academy Awards. The highpoint was when it was awarded the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1974. The Conversation was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"

The conversation (released in 1974) - starring Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams and Robert Duvall, dealing with wire-tapping

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