Director: Francis Ford Coppola




THE CONVERSATION, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 masterpiece of societal paranoia in the guise of a wiretapping thriller coincidentally released during the culmination of the Watergate scandal, returns to the big screen in a new 50th anniversary 4K restoration, opening at New York’s IFC Center on August 9 (the 50th anniversary of Richard Nixon resigning the presidency).

Of the new restoration, Francis Ford Coppola says: “As you will notice, I have never offered a new version of THE CONVERSATION, which is a film I have always been proud of, I’ve never felt the need to improve. It also features my wonderful collaboration with its editor (along with Richard Chew) and sound designer, Walter Murch, which reinforces my belief that cinema is a collaborative effort. I am gratified to have made a film that has lived for 50 years.”

Lonely wiretapping expert and devout Catholic Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is hired to record a seemingly innocuous conversation in San Francisco’s Union Square between two lovers (Frederic Forrest and Cindy Williams). Upon re-hearing the tapes, however, Caul believes he may be putting the couple in danger if he turns the material over to his client (Robert Duvall). But what one hears can ultimately turn out to be quite different from what was actually recorded.

Sandwiched between the filmmaker’s first two GODFATHER epics, THE CONVERSATION was a smaller, more personal exploration of humanity becoming enslaved and ultimately destroyed by the development of highly sophisticated surveillance technology. The timing of the film could not have been more prescient, with the concurrent revelation during the Watergate hearings of a secret taping device in the Oval Office. Although the cutting-edge electronics of that time now look like Victrolas compared to the pocket-sized gadgetry of today, the themes of social alienation, ruthless corporate behavior, and a testing of one’s faith resonate even deeper in the second decade of the 21st century.

Winner of the 1974 Palme d’Or at Cannes, and nominated for three Oscars including Best Picture (losing out to Coppola’s own THE GODFATHER: PART II), THE CONVERSATION features a cast of Coppola regulars, including John Cazale, Harrison Ford, and Teri Garr. The minimalist piano score by David Shire is considered one of the great films scores of that era.

The original negative was accessed for the first time and scanned in 4K. An approved reference print was used for the color grading and the 5.1 soundtrack was created in 2000 by Walter Murch. The restoration was fully approved by Francis Ford Coppola.