The Conversation (1974)
An excellent film of dramatic intrigue produced in an era when the protagonists were fully able to express themselves without resort to the F word. A 1974 film that took its time, slowly building up the pressure of suspense and revealing the devious lengths to which those employed in private surveillance, and those being bugged, recorded and photographed would go. Thinking I knew what was taking place, I found myself catching my breath at each realisation of quite the opposite. The nasty business of infiltrating the lives of others, peopled mainly by exploitative brink-men, has nothing to commend it; it thrives on other people's mistakes and ambitions, concealments and lust for power and wealth. Harry Caul, admirably played by Gene Hackman, was different from the others in one regard; he had a conscience, which, in his line of business, was his undoing. Socially inept but immensely successful at his job, he had an obsessive compulsion for personal secrecy, and took extravagant measures to remain as anonymous as possible. However, everyone has an Achilles heel and Harry ended up with nothing but his saxophone. The only problem I had with the production was I didn't always hear the dialogue properly, otherwise I thought it was a great film. The short films supporting the main feature were of the very high standard we have come to anticipate. The first one showed just how all our social media interactions plot our existence right down to the most mundane actions, building a personal profile of all our interests and habits, thoughts and expectations. Big Brother has latched on to us all to an incredible degree. The second film traced our path through the ages from when we had no personal privacy at all, to when people were able to have their own rooms and dedicated space, and on to today when complete strangers have the ability to almost know as much about us as we do ourselves. The last short was the most entertaining. A coffee shop with a mobile Googling station outside finding out about their customers from their names, astonished the clientele by representing their personal information written on the sides of their throw away cups. A very small group of three sat down to discuss the evening's showings. We were all in agreement that The Conversation is a film we are very pleased to have seen. Thinking back to 1970s, it must have been even more scary to audiences then than it was for us, and one of my friends last night said she was nervous to go back to her empty house alone after seeing it. We agreed it was an elegant film and worthy of recommendation. The short films had been chosen by a member of the group and we congratulated her on her choice. Sonia
Hat's off to the 38 people who braved temperatures of 29 degrees to watch this film. It seemed to me that the intellectual element of our community enjoyed the film - the majority of those who attended I feel. Alas, I am no intellectual. Eugene.