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Reel Reviews – The Conversation

The Conversation

Reel Review #26: “He’d kill us if he had the chance.” The Conversation turns on this statement. Where the intonation resides has everything to do with what it means. This is a great film from the seventies written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. He made this film between productions on the two Godfather films. This is one that should not be missed. I’m not following you. I’m looking for you, there is a big difference.

Direct download: Reel Reviews – The Conversation (16:17min 11.3MB)
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18 Responses to “Reel Reviews – The Conversation”


  1. Gravatar Icon 1 Ibarionex Feb 14th, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    Michael,

    First off, congratulations on a wonderful podcast. I got turned on to podcasting several weeks ago, and yours is easily my favorite program to listen to. As a long-time lover of film, and I was thrilled to find that your focus on one of my favorite films, The Conversation.

    The seventies were such a remarkable time in film, though unfortunately most current film makers are oblivious to. The greats film crafts man are easily forgotten, but I think that in a small way you are serving to keep them and their works out there.

    I am re-watching A Personal Journey with Martin Scorcese Through American Movies which is a beautiful trip through the history of film. I am also reading Who the Devil Made It by Peter Bogdanavich. In each of these, I am reminded of how film’s power lies in its ability to tell stories with pictures. The Conversation is a fine example of that. It is equally magical in its use of sound (not merely dialog) to reveal the intricacies of story. The last scene in the Conversation has found a place in my mind that still moves and impacts me.

    I rarely go to the theater anymore as I am largely disappointed by most fare, but thank goodness for DVD and the opportunity to view films and to learn about the wonderful craft of film making. Though I lament the state of the industry, DVD has created an opportunity to look at decades worth of finely crafted films that tell wonderful stories with great craft and skill.

    Thanks again for a great show and I wish all the best in this and all your other efforts.

    All the best.

    Ibarionex

  2. Gravatar Icon 2 Michael Feb 14th, 2005 at 7:30 pm

    Ibarionex,

    Great comment. Thank you. You also bring up two great items no film fan should be without:

    Personal Journey With Martin Scorsese Through American Movies
    And
    Who The Devil Made It – by Peter Bogdanovich

    Both, great resources. Thanks for the comment.

  3. Gravatar Icon 3 Robert Feb 15th, 2005 at 5:03 am

    Michael,

    Nice review of an absolute blockbuster film. Of course, it’s not a blockbuster by today’s standards, which is a shame. The film has a heavyweight cast of classic actors and I am enthralled every time it pops up on cable. Keep up the good work.

    Rob
    PodcastNYC.net

  4. Gravatar Icon 4 John G Feb 15th, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    Hi, got pointed at the Reel Review podcast from somewhere (I forget – a cast website somewhere…) and was really interested in hearing about Conversation, having just seen Blow Up just recently and quite enjoyed it. Thanks for doing a good job of persauding me to check it out.. Waiting to get hold of it somehow.

    Good podcast, think I’m staying subscribed to this one.

  5. Gravatar Icon 5 Michael Feb 15th, 2005 at 8:54 pm

    Robert,

    Thanks for the comment. Nice to know you are enjoying the show.

    John G.,

    Glad you found the show. Having just seen Blow Up, you should really enjoy the conversation.

    Thanks guys.

  6. Gravatar Icon 6 dicky duann Feb 16th, 2005 at 6:44 pm

    Michael,
    First of all, thanks for your terrific reviews of “The Conversation” and “Apocalypse Now Redux”. My english teacher gave me the dvd of “Apocalypse Now Redux” ages ago, and i was really stunned by the tremendous emotional power and tragic scenes. I did not finish it at the first time because it was simply too huge for me.
    Then i got pointed at the Reel Review podcast while browsing npr.org and some links. I am so happy i found this amazing podcasting website. Thanks to your spoiler warning, i finished the “Apocalypse Now” before listening to your review. i surely got a kick out of it! For me, it is just like a history textbook. i have never felt so much overwhelmed by simply watching a movie!
    I have been a long-time movie junky , but in China it seems that everybody is only interested in those latest blockbusters of Hollywood production. I always have a hard time looking for something different and more insightful. Now your reviews have become my greatest sources of english listening materials and ,more importantly , MOVIES WORTH WACTHING!!!
    At last, thanks again for your hard work and podcasting! Happy new year of the rooster!!!

    Dicky Duann
    Xi’an China

  7. Gravatar Icon 7 Michael Feb 16th, 2005 at 11:31 pm

    Dicky,

    Glad to hear you enjoy the show. Great to know we have listeners in China. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Gravatar Icon 8 Neil Feb 20th, 2005 at 10:51 am

    Hi,
    I just thought that your listeners from Britian might like to know that The Conversation will be broadcast on BBC1 at 12:05pm monday night. i.e. five minutes into Tuesday.

    I’m not sure how clear that was so check your TV guides! I hope that someone will find that useful and i’m looking forward to the next podcast.

    Keep up the good work Michael!

    Neil

  9. Gravatar Icon 9 ctyankee Feb 21st, 2005 at 8:11 am

    Michael.

    I really enjoyed your ‘cast of The Conversation. I was aware of podcasts through dvdtalk.com but yours is only the second one I’ve listened to. I’m sure that the New York Times article will be bringing a bunch of newbies like me to your site.

    Thanks also for the link to Lost on Mulholland Dr. link: http://www.mulholland-drive.net/ I help fund the site and I provide content. I will be sure to mention it to the webmasters (past and present, the people that really do the hard work).

    One suggestion. The obvious reality of your comments on The Conversation is to discuss the film but not spoil the film for those who have not yet seen the film. This works quite well with discussion of Walter Murch’s role as well as the importance of sound and sound editing to the film (which I have a passion about) but less so when actually discussing plot points. Perhaps it might be worth trying an ‘advanced points’ last (in the ‘cast). So, after a general review and other housekeeping points you wanted to make on the ‘cast have a ‘stop point’ where people know that beyond this is stuff for people that have already seen the film.

    That way those that have already seen the film can hear more robust points about the film without hurting those that have not.

    ctyankee

  10. Gravatar Icon 10 Jason Feb 24th, 2005 at 11:44 pm

    Great movie… one of my top ten of all time.

    Listening to you on G’Day podcast, and visited your site.

    Very impressive… love the way you are breaking this down by movie.

  11. Gravatar Icon 11 Steven Mar 2nd, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    Hey Michael..great podcast I dont miss an episode of Real Reviews.

    I enjoyed your piece on The Conversation. Another film that relies
    on sound as a key character is THX-1138. I liked this film the first
    time I saw it and in some ways I’m glad it is out on DVD as the
    Directors Cut. I fluctuate between regarding the original cut as the
    definative version of the film and admiring and championing the new
    version with its enhanced scenes. Is it right to improve on the
    original just because we can with todays technology, I suppose it is
    but the purist and modernist in me are always arguing : )

    I’m not keen on Star Wars but THX-1138 and American Grafitti (great
    soundtrack) are two of my favorite films. SW gets a bit too
    self-perpetuating, I dont know why the Wachowski Bros didnt think that
    one through before they made the Matrix sequels.

    Keep up the great work.

    Steven

  12. Gravatar Icon 12 Dorothy Mar 5th, 2005 at 6:33 pm

    Thanks MG for bringing attention to this extraordinary movie with an extraordinary cast. Hackman is one of my favorite actors, but somehow missed this one, so I got the DVD with no regrets. As much as the sound design has been given deserved attention, I also found the cinematography exceptional. For some reason the scene of Hackman in the phone booth with the reflections of red neons jabbing over his face isn’t unintentional, perhaps hints of what will haunt him. And Hackman’s neat, tidy, lonely apartment in the beginning transforms with him. It’s also nice to go back to movies without focusing on whiz-bang special effects.

  13. Gravatar Icon 13 daniel Mar 8th, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    heya mwg, unfortunately, the best thing about this flick was your podcast review, still i aint mad, rock on

  14. Gravatar Icon 14 Chris Mar 20th, 2005 at 7:09 pm

    I put this film in my Netflix queue after your podcast on it and watched it last night. I really dug the little twist at the end and, of course, Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Harry Caul was terrific.

    Aside from that what I really loved was the whole idea of wiretappers in general and how they were portrayed in this movie. They’re often eccentric guys that build their own equipment for their own needs. I’m a computer hacker. No, I don’t steal credit card numbers or deface websites, but I do spend my time trying to make computers and software
    do things other than what they were intended for. I’ve built my own equivalents to Harry’s little box powered by a 9 volt battery (the one he used to finally isolate the phrase “He’d kill us if he had the chance”) and I totally related to the wiretapper’s convention since I’ve gone to hacker conventions myself and it’s almost the same thing.

    These guys were the hackers of the 70′s. From Bernie Moran’s little gadget that turned an ordinary phone into an ambient mic to Harry’s picking of the hotel room lock. These were the guys I’d have hung out with had I been born thirty years earlier. And the technology!! The “top of the line” mini reel to reel that Bernie used to record Harry’s conversation with the convention babe (can’t remember her name). Harry’s three tape recorders daisy chained together to make one decent track.. Awesome! I loved it!

    I won’t keep rambling Michael, but I just wanted to say thanks for reccomending such an awesome film. This one’s definitely worth buying and having in my collection.

  15. Gravatar Icon 15 Barry Mar 29th, 2005 at 10:04 am

    I saw this film a long time ago and seem to recall that Coppola “cheated” when Harry Caul listens to that all-important sentence, “He’d kill us if he had the chance.” The first time Harry hears the line spoken, the word “kill” is emphasized. Later on, the word “us” is stressed. This alteration changes the implied meaning of the statement and lifts the “caul” from Harry’s eyes.

    Also, you correctly state that “The Conversation” is influenced by “Blow-Up,” the former an “ethical” detective story, the latter a metaphysical mystery. There is, however, also DePalma’s “Blow-Out,” with its title referencing the Antonioni film but with its sound engineer protagonist delving into an aural mystery as does Coppola’s character in “The Conversation.”

  16. Gravatar Icon 16 Will Apr 26th, 2005 at 11:41 am

    Well, “The Conversation” finally worked it’s way up my Netflix queue after I placed it there when you did the review. Thanks for highlighting an interesting movie I probably would have missed otherwise.

    Re: the end. I was convinced he had gone mad and was hallucinating. But the phone call from Harrison Ford right in the last few minute seemed to confirm that what he had seen was reality. (or at least that there was something evil going on). Very odd.

  17. Gravatar Icon 17 Chris Marshall Apr 27th, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    Michael,
    Thank you very much for your review of this movie.
    I have a little more to say about this film and I have posted it as a 2m 9s .mp3
    Please take a listen. I have envisioned that “Enemy of the State” is a pseudo-sequel to The “Conversation”.
    http://www.collectedcomicslibrary.com/rss/the_conversation.mp3

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