The Conversation (1974)
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Excellent underrated film. The ending is spectacular.
Shades of both Hitchcock and Antonioni, and one of the best film scores I've heard, a brilliantly subdued thriller.
Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation owes a huge (but acknowledged - it even starts with a mime) debt to Antonioni's Blow-Up, which I reviewed recently. Like Blow-Up, it's about context and perception, but instead of exploring it through a photographer and a mysterious sequence of pictures, he does so with a professional wiretapper, and an innocuous conversation. The conversation repeats throughout the film, revealing itself or its meaning a little more each time, but also taking on new meaning based on context. Gene Hackman gives an excellent and understated performance as the obsessively private protagonist, and Coppola doesn't go Blow-Up's philosophical route, steering the film towards the thriller genre, albeit a quiet kind of thriller. He certainly shows us a lot of the nitty-gritty of the surveillance business circa 1974, but a remake wouldn't feel incredibly different (though perhaps the character of Harry Caul would have even more anxiety regarding hypersurveillance). And there's a poetry to the images here that I really enjoy, Coppola importing the idea of things hidden and revealed into the cinematography and script elements.
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In 20 official lists
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This movie ranks #42 in Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or
This movie ranks #43 in National Board of Review - Best Film
This movie ranks #87 in 100 Must-See Films Of The 20th Century
This movie ranks #105 in 500 Essential Cult Movies
This movie ranks #114 in Empire 500
This movie ranks #123 in Roger Ebert: the great movies
This movie ranks #142 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #179 in National Film Registry
This movie ranks #181 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #194 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #195 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #209 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List
This movie ranks #295 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #342 in The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #353 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #366 in TSPDT 1000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #379 in 501 Must See Movies
This movie ranks #580 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #655 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #770 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films