Must-See 1970s Thriller Gets Remake Series

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

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If you’re a fan of classic cinema—specifically New Hollywood masterpieces from directorial icons like Francis Ford Coppola—watch out: his 1974 cinematic tour de force, The Conversation, is poised for a groundbreaking transformation into a television series. 

The Talent Behind The Series

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J.C. Chandor, the acclaimed writer-director behind Margin Call (a gripping depiction of a Wall Street firm during the 2007-2008 financial crisis) and All Is Lost (an incredibly minimalist film about a man lost at sea featuring only 51 words of dialogue) will helm the ambitious project. Chandor will also write the series, like many of his renowned projects. 

The writer-director’s production company, CounterNarrative Films, will develop the movie, collaborating with Temple Hill and producer Adam Fishbach. Interestingly—in an exciting development for classic film fans—Coppola’s own American Zoetrope production house will also executive-produce The Conversation. 

And for those who pine for Don Draper’s return, Erin Levy celebrated for her work on Mad Men (streaming now on Amazon Prime), and Netflix’s Mindhunter will fulfill showrunner duties

A Thriller Ahead Of Its Time

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The original film was a masterful meditation on paranoia, privacy, and the ethical quandaries inherent to state surveillance. Critics and audiences in the ’70s adored the movie’s compelling narrative as much as modern audiences do now. The movie is also lauded for its stellar cast, featuring incredible performance from Gene Hackman, John Cazale, and Harrison Ford

An Acclaimed Film

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Don’t take our word for it—The Conversation earned three Oscar nominations and a Palme d’Or win at the Cannes Film Festival. The film’s legacy as a seminal, influential landmark of the thriller genre means the prospect of a prestige TV adaptation is exceedingly exciting. 

A Gender Swap

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The series is primed to gender-flip its lead; Hackman’s iconic character, Harry Caul, will be reimagined as a woman. The pivot will hopefully offer a fresh perspective on the narrative’s core themes: the fragility of privacy and the extent of surveillance.

You can’t blame Chandor, Zoetrope, and all those involved in The Conversation for anticipating these themes will resonate with contemporary audiences, given their similar impact today in our technological age. 

The Story

According to the official logline, the principal story arc will concern the female recreation ofCaul, a surveillance specialist who threads an intricate web through corporate espionage. Gradually but inevitably, Caul transforms from observer to target in a high-stakes, life-and-death game of cat and mouse. 

The 1974 Film

While the location of the TV series is undisclosed, the original film unfolded in San Francisco. Played unforgettably by Gene Hackman, the original Caul amounted to an obsessive, complex individual, governed by a deep-seated paranoia and motivated by a fervent desire to remain detached from those he spies on. 

The Conversation’s plot revolves around a particular and infamous assignment that increasingly disturbs Caul. Hired to employ his high-tech equipment and record what seems like a casual conversation by a young couple as they stroll through a crowded San Francisco square, Caul unveils a sinister plot.