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The French Connection (1971)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  9 October 1971 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 76,323 users   Metascore: 96/100
Reviews: 273 user | 130 critic | 4 from Metacritic.com

A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.



(screenplay), (based on the book by), 1 more credit »
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Won 5 Oscars. Another 17 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcel Bozzuffi ...
Frédéric de Pasquale ...
Devereaux (as Frederic De Pasquale)
Ann Rebbot ...
Marie Charnier
Harold Gary ...
Arlene Farber ...
Angie Boca
Eddie Egan ...
André Ernotte ...
La Valle (as Andre Ernotte)
Benny Marino ...
Lou Boca
Patrick McDermott ...
Chemist (as Pat McDermott)


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>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | heroin | city | drugs | smuggling | See All (189) »


Doyle is bad news - but a good cop. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

9 October 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Doyle  »

Box Office


$1,800,000 (estimated)


SEK 1,836,397 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| (Westrex Recording System)


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to William Friedkin, Gene Hackman had a hard time saying Doyle's racist language without cringing. See more »


On the New York City subway, a two-buzz highball is normally given only when a train departs from a terminus, makes an unscheduled stop, or has to add or drop cars along its route. It is not given during normal stops along a route such as Bay-50th St. See more »


[first lines]
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Merry Christmas. What's your name, little boy?
Little Boy: Eric.
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Uh-huh, Eric. What do you want for Christmas Eric? Hmmm?
See more »


Referenced in The Ministers (2009) See more »


Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon
(1969) (uncredited)
Written by Jimmy Webb
Performed by The Three Degrees in the club
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A masterpiece of NYC hard-edged realism
29 April 2005 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

This is an intense, unremitting, intelligent and incredibly fast-paced film which blends action, cinematic realism, art and humor into a masterwork of hard-edged crime drama. But to categorize this film as drama, suspense or action really does violence to it. This is just a great film, and it doesn't fit comfortably into any category with which I am aware.

Don't look here for any sense of fantasy-justice or n'er-do-wrong comic book heroism. Look here instead for gut wrenching nihilism, frustration with the unfairness of criminal justice in the hands of bureaucracy, and a solid, plot-driven story about a couple of cops who are just trying to do their jobs as best they can.

And by all means, don't watch this film if you aren't fully awake and willing to be taken down the electric, ambiguous, and compelling roads it leads to. If you watch this film with any part of your brain turned off you'll end up asking questions like "plot, what plot?" The fact that some people can't find it reflects more on them as film-watchers than it does on this film. This film does not offer passive entertainment like most of the contemporary action market does. It makes you pay attention, though, at times you might not want to.

Hackman and Scheider are incredible, with some of the greatest chemistry I have ever seen between two young actors. They play two hard-ass NYC detectives looking to end the war on drugs more-or-less permanently by taking down an international conspiracy which they have just barely sniffed out. And make no mistake, they, particularly Hackman's "Popeye Doyle" are at war, and treat their jobs as a battlefield. Doyle pursues his quarry with utterly wreckless abandon, endangering the lives of dozens of people along the way. While both men are absolutely terrific, this stands out as one of Hackman's greatest performances, and his Oscar is well-deserved (not something you will see me say often). Backed by a strong supporting cast, and some of the best live-action cinematography of the late 20th century, this film does not allow you to turn away, get popcorn, or even deal with bodily functions for its entire duration.

Considered in the early 70s to be 'shockingly violent', this film does not even reach a tenth the degree of passive violent repulsion of the average Tarantino film, and it relies, instead, on amazing performances, flawless direction, a phenomenal post-modern soundtrack and edgy, tense camera-work. Unlike contemporary action film garbage, it also gives you complex characters who you can care about, but never fully understand. I will cut this review short because I am running out of superlatives. Anybody remotely interested in expanding or just appreciating the artistic breadth and depth of mainstream film needs to see this.

121 of 154 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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