Sunday, December 19, 2010


After the release of THE GODFATHER (1972) and before its sequel, THE GODFATHER Pt. II (1974) director Francis Ford Coppola managed to work on a small scale, San Francisco based film about privacy called THE CONVERSATION (1974).  Along with the fabulous, Gene Hackman, who plays a reclusive surveillance expert, the film stars Cindy Williams and several other AMERICAN GRAFFITI alumni including; Harrison Ford, Albert Nalbandian, and George Meyer.  In addition, GRAFFITI sound designer, Walter Murch served as the supervising editor and sound designer and GRAFFITI Visual Consultant, Haskell Wexler participated in filming the first complex shots at the beginning of THE CONVERSATION. Jim Bloom who was a production associate for Graffiti, acted as technical adviser and Administrative Assistant for the film.

Harry Caul is hired to record the conversation of a couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest) as they walk through crowded Union Square in San Francisco.

Caul now has a sound recording of the beautiful Cindy Williams uttering the phrase, "He'd kill us if he got the chance"  Although the words are crystal clear, their meaning is not.

Who could forget the drunk (George Meyer) in AMERICAN GRAFFITI who steals Toad's money to buy wine?  Not me. For THE CONVERSATION, he took a shower, shit, & shaved, and donned a plaid suit and started selling surveillance products at trade shows.

Salesman (George Meyer) tries to sell Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) the latest top of the line, high tech spy equipment.

In AMERICAN GRAFFITI  he was the hardy hand-shaking Hank who nominated Curt for the Moose Lodge Scholarship.  In THE CONVERSATION character actor, Albert Nalbandian, is a hilarious, obnoxious, salesman at the surveillance convention promoting the new LT 500.  Incidentally, Nalbandian has owned and operated a flower stand for more than 60 years in the Union Square area where the first scenes of THE CONVERSATION were filmed.

Harry Caul has become increasingly paranoid over the significance and meaning of the conversation he recorded and suspects that the couple he has been spying on will be murdered. Caul has a crisis of conscience and avoids handing in the tape to the aide (Harrison Ford) of the man who commissioned the surveillance (Robert Duvall)

Legend has it that Harrison Ford wore a cowboy hat in AMERICAN GRAFFITI in order to hide his long hair. Apparently, he didn't want to cut his hair for the film because he thought a 60's style haircut would decrease his chances of getting work in other movies.  Despite the studio friendly length of his hair, THE CONVERSATION did little to advance his career. Ford would not appear in another feature film unitl a little thing in 1977 called STAR WARS.

Caul's investigation leads him to a hotel where he believes the murder is about to take place.  Can he prevent it?  Will he make it in time to save the beautiful Cindy Williams???   What will happen???

1 comment:

  1. I like this movie, but haven't seen it for years. That whole San Francisco/Northern California (via USC) clic was hot stuff in the day. And what's the deal with the Bay area and surveillence? I was in San Francisco earlier this year and there is an actual spy shop down by the wharf. Your shots of the equipment hawkers reminded me of that. All kinds of gizmos for untrusting people doing business right in the middle of the tourist area. Hippies, gays & spooks, what a mix. Scary. I love it though. It may be the creative center of the universe.