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THE CONVERSATION

USA, 1973 (MIFF 1974)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Sandwiched between The Godfather Parts I and 2, Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation is as gripping a piece of up-to-the-minute suspense drama that one could hope to find, although. strangely enough. Coppola has been planning the film for several years.

Harry Caul is a professional surveillance expert—a wiretapper. and one of the best in the business. The film opens as Harry and three associates fulfil an assignment for which Harry has been hired by the Director of a large San Francisco company: to monitor the lunch-time conversation between the Director's wife and the young man with whom she is walking in downtown Union Square. An ordinary assignment for a private investigation agency, probably a husband seeking grounds for divorce: but. Caul feels, something is not quite right. When he goes to deliver the tapes to his employer, the Director is not in his office, and Caul refuses to hand over the evidence to the bland-looking man who claims to represent him. He recalls that, in a couple of earlier cases, evidence provided by him had resulted in violence: he plays the tapes back over and over again, erasing extraneous sounds, amplifying the tape recorded by one microphone as against those of the others. And, as David Hemmings discovered when he enlarged the photograph in Blow-Up, the tapes reveal something altogether more sinister than Harry had previously suspected.

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