A low budget masterpiece by Francis Fold Coppola, the film delivers extremely well crafted, slow and carefully unfolding analysis of humanly uninteresting but remarkable for his obsession with privacy professional surveillance expert Harry Caul – the most complex performance ever delivered by Gene Hackman according to many critics.
“You see, I would be perfectly happy to have all my personal things burned up in a fire because I don’t have anything personal. Nothing of value. No, nothing personal except my keys, you see, which I really would like to have the only copy of…” explains he to his landlord.
At first, he appears as a man who is assured in his own invincibility and proud of his professionalism, as he commissioned by The Director (Robert Duval) to record a conversation between two people somewhere in San Francisco, the city he has recently fled from East Coast to, hunted by guilt and sorrow… his previous assignment has lead to a death of innocent people.
While working on the assignment and lecturing his business partner Stan (John Cazale) on how uninvolved, how faceless, how autistic this business must be to the very subject of events and recordings, he finds himself engaged into the conversation he has recorded between Ann (Cindy Williams) and Mark (Frederic Forrest). This fatal deviation from this professional self-ethics established by the lead character himself, leads to complete crash and destruction of what is left from so-called life of Harry Caul.