Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Conversation (1974)

Today's movie is The Conversation, a classic that led me to a stunning revelation.  It stars Gene Hackman as Harry Caul, a surveillance technician that's very well known in his field.  He builds most of his own equipment and runs his own business spying on people for a profit.  I will rate this film an 8/10.

Caul is a religious and modest man that keeps to himself.  For his birthday, he prefers playing his saxophone to jazz albums rather than going to the club.  Even though he is great at his job, he never likes to talk about it.  One of his surveillance jobs inadvertently led to the murder of three people.  His most recent job entails audio recording the conversation of a couple in the park, financed by a man called "the director".  After recording them, his team returns to their workshop.  As he tweaks the audio, he starts to believe that this couple may be in danger.  Is he hearing it right or is he just misinterpreting the whole thing?  Who is really in danger?

I absolutely love the old fashioned technology, which was cutting-edge in its day.  I have always enjoyed working with analog equipment.  It is amazing how much effort it took for his team to record one conversation from one couple.  Today, the NSA can record 12000 facebook conversations in one day.  Suck on that 1970s!

The ending was so shocking and I in no way expected it to happen. Also, I was thinking about this film all day and I was reminded of my Will Smith movie collection. Fun fact: I watch any film that he is in no matter what because I've had a crush on him since second grade.  So, one of his films is Enemy of the State, where he plays an innocent man (Dean) chased by the NSA.  His character is helped greatly by a former surveillance technician who worked for the NSA called "Brill".  If you look at Brill's id photo from his younger days, it was actually taken from The Conversation. Brill has the same personality and temperament as Harry Caul, has an elaborate workshop just like him, and knows everything about wiretapping and surveillance, obviously from his years of experience.  At the end of The Conversation, Caul tears apart his apartment in search of hidden bugs, just as Brill expertly removes all of Dean's bugs. He even wears the exact same raincoat. I believe that Harry Caul is Brill, living under a pseudonym and willing to help Dean with his knowledge.


  1. I noticed the connection with Enemy of the State, too, and wondered if it was an homage or if we were supposed to interpret it as the same character from The Conversation.

    And like you, I was surprised by the reveal in this film, too.

    1. I interpreted him as the same character. The ending was so great, I think this film is underrated.