William Friedkin's gritty police drama portrays two tough New York City cops trying to intercept a huge heroin shipment coming from France. An interesting contrast is established between 'Popeye' Doyle, a short-tempered alcoholic bigot who is nevertheless a hard-working and dedicated police officer, and his nemesis Alain Charnier, a suave and urbane gentleman who is nevertheless a criminal and one of the largest drug suppliers of pure heroin to North America. During the surveillance and eventual bust, Friedkin provides one of the most gripping and memorable car chase sequences ever filmed. Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
The car chase was filmed without obtaining the proper permits from the city. Members of the NYPD's tactical force helped control traffic. But most of the control was achieved by the assistant directors with the help of off-duty NYPD officers, many of whom had been involved in the actual case. The assistant directors, under the supervision of Terence A. Donnelly, cleared traffic for approximately five blocks in each direction. Permission was given to literally control the traffic signals on those streets where they ran the chase car. Even so, in many instances, they illegally continued the chase into sections with no traffic control, where they actually had to evade real traffic and pedestrians. Many of the (near) collisions in the movie were therefore real and not planned (with the exception of the near-miss of the lady with the baby carriage, which was carefully rehearsed). A flashing police light was placed on top of the car to warn bystanders. A camera was mounted on the car's bumper for the shots from the car's point-of-view. Hackman did some of the driving but the extremely dangerous stunts were performed by Bill Hickman, with Friedkin filming from the backseat. Friedkin operated the camera himself because the other camera operators were married with children and he was not. See more »
At the very beginning before Popeye and Cloudy go into the bar, it is dusk. When they leave the bar to chase the drug dealer a few minutes later, it's mid-day. See more »
In most movies, the good guys are portrayed as models for others, examples for a better life. The bad guys, on the other hand, are usually dirty rat scums. What a refreshing surprise to see that The French Connection has the roles loosely interchanged. Set against the backdrop of bleak New York City streets, ill-tempered narcotics detective 'Popeye' Doyle and his partner 'Cloudy' Russo intercept a drug shipment coming in from France led by urbane master criminal Alan Charnier. The two cops, however, have a hard time capturing the drug lord as he outwits them throughout the city. Popeye and Charnier make an interesting contrast. Popeye is portrayed as an obsessive, racist drunk while Charnier is the mellow, European sophisticate. This is, of course, an action thriller and the sequences are gritty, tense, and heart-pounding. It features one of the best car chase scenes ever filmed. What makes it so effective is the fact that it was shot in real-time, heavy traffic and we vicariously experience moment-by-moment. The acting is strong and believable. Gene Hackman's portrayal is exact and deservedly won the Best Actor Oscar. William Friedkin did a superior job in giving us a diverting and realistic look of cop life and the raw work they undergo to clear the streets of illicit activity. Great action thriller!
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