The Conversation, a 1974 movie

The Conversation is supposedly a great film. Everyone says so. It has mystery, suspense, interesting technology, and excellent acting. So why was I just meh about it?

Well, it’s half a century old, so it may just be that it inevitably feels dated.

But no, the trouble with that hypothesis is that the only good way to test it is for me to rewatch a bunch of other movies from the period of 1965-1974, generally thought of as the ’60s even if that is calendrically incorrect. I could certainly do that, or I could just rewatch them in my mind. Have other movies from that period lost their appeal for me?

Surely some of them have, but I don’t think that’s the issue here. It was written, produced, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and starred Gene Hackman, Allen Garfield, Harrison Ford, Teri Garr, and Robert Duvall, so it must be good. I guess it’s just me.

I said in my initial paragraph that it has “interesting technology,” some of which you can see in the movie poster above. Analog magnetic tape! Wired headphones! Hidden microphones! These play a significant role in the action. No cell phones, of course.

It does make one think about the effect of technology on society. It does make one think about the responsibility of those who design, make, and sell it. It does make one think about the famous Tom Lehrer line in a very different context (or is it really so different?), “Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? It’s not my department, says Werner Von Braun.”

So all that is interesting. But I still was never engaged in the movie.

Categories: Movies & (occasionally) TV