Archive for francis ford coppola

The Conversation (1974)

Posted in Dailies with tags , on July 9, 2009 by leclisse

Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation is one of those films that, at first, appears to be deceptively simple.  Slow, even.  What emerges, however, is an incredibly nuanced portrait of a man, Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), racked by guilt and conscience over the latest entry in his career as a professional surveillance man.

The conversation: Ann (Cindy Williams) and Paul (Michael Higgins)Coppola takes his time in revealing the character of a man who does not wish to be known, or for that matter, understood.  Harry’s assignment is to tape record the conversation of a young man and woman, Paul (Michael Higgins) and Ann (Cindy Williams), who are apparently engaging in an affair.  They circle a public park, trying very desperately to appear nonchalant, calm, natural.  What Harry hears, however, is a startling indication of imminent danger: “He would kill us if he had the chance.”  Harry is clearly shaken by this revelation, but maintains the utmost secrecy regarding his clients.  He won’t even share details with his partner, beyond the technicalities of the surveillance setup.  Harry comes to the realization that, ethically, he can’t hand over the tapes.  The risk of murder is too real, and he is haunted by the deaths resulting from an operation he undertook some years before.  He steels himself for a confrontation with his client (Ann’s husband), the mysterious “Director” (Robert Duvall), but ends up dealing with his henchman, Martin Stett (Harrison Ford in an early, uncharacteristically villainous role).

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The Mafia Mystique – The Godfather (1972) and Goodfellas (1990)

Posted in Academic with tags , , on May 22, 2009 by leclisse

The course project for one of my classes this past semester was an examination of devices and themes used by Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese in their presentations of the Mafia as seen in The Godfather (1972) and Goodfellas (1990).  This project was not for a film class, but rather for Criminological Reasearch Methods – I felt that this sort of analysis would be a perfect fusion of the methdological research component with my love of classic film.  And it would also aid me in remaining at least somewhat interested in the class.

The document weighs in at 19 pages in Microsoft Word, so feel free to skim some of the more technical methodological terms if they become too insufferable.  All in all, I can say that I enjoyed working on this project because it allowed me to probe two of the greatest films ever made, as well as learn a little background information about the birth and evolution of the gangster film genre.  The infamous Hays Production Code, for instance, had a heavy hand to play in the ethnic (or lack thereof) portrayal of gangsters from the 1930’s onward, until the Code’s demise in the late 1960’s.  Even by 1972, when Coppola was preparing to film The Godfather, he was under substantial pressure from Mafia interests to tailor his depictions to their liking.

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