Thursday, September 06, 2018
"The Conversation": 1974 Coppola thriller showed how surveillance worked in the analogue days
I’m reading Siva Vaidhyanathan’s “Antisocial Media”, a blue-book (like for taking exams) and Siva early on mentions the 1974 film “The Conversation”, directed by Francis Ford Coppola for Paramount.
The film is a good exercise on the mentality of analogue surveillance in the decades before the Internet. Gene Hackman plays Henry Caul, living in San Francisco, a private eye and former G-man who run his own surveillance business with manual wiretaps but who is extraordinarily finicky about how he relates even to the people who hire him (who include Martin (Harrison Ford) and his relationship with the “Director”, after whom Ford named his production company.
Much of the plot centers around his belief that a couple he is shadowing will be murdered.
The film is curious in that it is filmed in the old 1.37:1 aspect ratio. I think I saw it in NYC in the summer of 1974 during the Nixon Watergate hearings, before I moved into the city myself on September 1, 1974.Wikipedia: Public Domain, Link