It took a while for Paul Feig—the director behind such smash-hit comedies as Bridesmaids and Spy—to come around to the darker side of cinema. Back in his college days, the filmmaker appreciated the superior technique of the dramas and foreign films he saw in his undergraduate film classes at Wayne State University, but more often than not the movies themselves left him cold—that is, until the fateful day he saw Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 The Conversation.
In the latest installment of Adventures in Moviegoing, now available to watch on the Criterion Channel on FilmStruck, Feig talks about how Coppola’s hypnotic portrayal of the paranoid world of Gene Hackman’s surveillance expert grabbed him from the start and wouldn’t let go, convincing him that a deeply artful movie could be legitimately entertaining as well. The above clip features the director paying breathless tribute to everything he loves about The Conversation—from David Shire’s haunting score to Walter Murch and Richard Chew’s masterful editing to the unlikely appearance of “Gomer Pyle’s girlfriend” among the cast. He also talks about how his “Hitchcockian” new film A Simple Favor had him tapping into The Conversation’s inimitable thriller style.