Video Release: December 12, 2000
Theatrical Release: 1974
Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
- Dolby Surround AC-3
- Runtime: 113 minutes
- NTSC (Canada and USA)
- Originally in English
- Released in French
Gene Hackman stars as Harry Caul, a surveillance expert whose regular work is taping the lives and conversations of others. The opening shot of the film is a slow, long zoom into Union Square in San Francisco, where a young couple, Mark (Frederic Forrest) and Ann (Cindy Williams), are having what seems like a mundane conversation while Harry and his assistant, Stanley (John Cazale), eavesdrop from a nearby van. But when Harry carefully analyzes his tape of the two, he uncovers bits of an unsettling dialogue. Harry is suspicious of his client's motives for wanting the tape, and he becomes uncharacteristically caring about the people he may have put in danger. In Harry Caul, Francis Ford Coppola has created a complex Catholic-guilt ridden character for which Gene Hackman is perfect: a man in complete control on the outside but breaking down within. Robert Duvall appears in the film in an uncredited cameo role as the Director. Teri Garr, Harrison Ford, and Elizabeth MacRae costar, but Hackman, in top form in every scene, is the reason for watching.
This haunting film focuses on Harry Caul, a detached and paranoid surveillance expert who finds himself becoming a victim of the same modern technology he uses to destroy others. It begins with a seemingly routine job trailing an unfaithful wife and her lover. But when Harry visits the husband's office to deliver the incriminating tapes he's made of the couple, his client's assistant tries to intercept him. Harry refuses to hand over the recordings and suddenly he discovers that he may have captured a conversation about something that's a lot more important than adulterous goings-on.
The film was written over five years before production began. Shot on location in San Francisco. Color by Technicolor. Additional cast: Elizabeth MacRae (Meredith) and Phoebe Alexander (Lurleen).