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>
One of the 1970s best crime movies, and yes, that means one of the best ever.
'The French Connection' has really stood the test of time. William Friedkin is one American director who has almost been forgotten about, despite making some excellent movies like 'The Birthday Party', 'The Exorcist' and 'Cruising'. 'The French Connection' is his best movie by far, and one of the 1970s best crime movies, which means it's one of the best EVER. The lead actors are first rate, and the script by Ernest Tidyman ('Shaft') is a good one, but Friedkin makes this something special by applying documentary film techniques to this gritty and realistic detective story. 'The French Connection' was groundbreaking in this respect and influenced just about every subsequent cop movie, all the way up to contemporary TV shows like 'NYPD Blue' and the like. Gene Hackman is just terrific as Popeye Doyle. Hackman had been around for about ten years, and impressed many with his supporting role in 'Bonnie And Clyde', but this movie made him a major star. Along with 'The Conversation' and 'Scarecrow' it's still one of his most impressive performances. Roy Scheider was almost a complete unknown prior to this but he's also very good as Popeye's partner Buddy Russo. Scheider went on to some fine work in movies such as 'Jaws', 'Marathon Man', 'Last Embrace', '52 Pick-Up' and 'Naked Lunch', but never quite became the big name star that Hackman did. Bunuel regular Fernando Rey (cast by mistake after a misunderstanding, Friedkin thinking he was hiring a different actor!) and the underrated character actor Tony Lo Bianco, who had recently appeared in the cult classic 'The Honeymoon Killers', lead a fine supporting cast who really add to the movie's success. The exciting car chase sequence in this movie is now legendary, and is arguably the best one ever filmed, but there is so much more to this film than just that. 'The French Connection' is a superb movie, and still better than just about any similar Hollywood crime thriller made in the last few years. Highly recommended!
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