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>
Both James Caan and Peter Boyle turned down the role of Popeye Doyle. One of the main reasons Boyle decided not to make the film was the reaction to his work in Joe (1970). Boyle's character there was a bigoted man who went on a violent crime spree, but to Boyle's horror, audiences began cheering on his brutal activities rather than being repulsed by and opposed to them. He feared a similar reception if he played "Popeye" Doyle and thus decided to forego the part. See more »
When Popeye first follows Charnier down the subway steps, Charnier tricks Popeye by quickly leaving through the exit. Popeye rips his coat and hat off in an attempt to disguise himself, and races back up the subway steps to the street. We cut to a shot of Charnier walking with his cane, and then cut back to Popeye with his coat, gloves, scarf, and hat back on and buttoned up. 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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