The French Connection (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

The French Connection (1971)



Critic Consensus: Realistic, fast-paced and uncommonly smart, The French Connection is bolstered by stellar performances by Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, not to mention William Friedkin's thrilling production.

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Movie Info

This gritty, fast-paced, and innovative police drama earned five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay (written by Ernest Tidyman), and Best Actor (Gene Hackman). Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Hackman) and his partner, Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider), are New York City police detectives on narcotics detail, trying to track down the source of heroin from Europe into the United States. Suave Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) is the French drug kingpin who provides a large percentage of New York City's dope, and Pierre Nicoli (Marcel Bozzuffi) is a hired killer and Charnier's right-hand man. Acting on a hunch, Popeye and Buddy start tailing Sal Boca (Tony Lo Bianco) and his wife, Angie (Arlene Faber), who live pretty high for a couple whose corner store brings in about 7,000 dollars a year. It turns out Popeye's suspicions are right -- Sal and Angie are the New York agents for Charnier, who will be smuggling 32 million dollars' worth of heroin into the city in a car shipped over from France. The French Connection broke plenty of new ground for screen thrillers; Popeye Doyle was a highly unusual "hero," an often violent, racist, and mean-spirited cop whose dedication to his job fell just short of dangerous obsession. The film's high point, a high-speed car chase with Popeye tailing an elevated train, was one of the most viscerally exciting screen moments of its day and set the stage for dozens of action sequences to follow. And the film's grimy realism (and downbeat ending) was a big change from the buff-and-shine gloss and good-guys-always-win heroics of most police dramas that preceded it. The French Connection was inspired by a true story, and Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, Popeye and Buddy's real life counterparts, both have small roles in the film. A sequel followed four years later. ~ Mark Deming, Rovimore
Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Robin Moore, Ernest Tidyman
In Theaters:
On DVD: Sep 25, 2001
20th Century Fox


Gene Hackman
as Jimmy `Popeye' Doyle
Fernando Rey
as Charnier
Eddie Egan
as Simonson
Irving Abrahams
as Police Mechanic
Bill Hickman
as Mulderig
Andre Emotte
as La Valle
Ann Rebbot
as Marie Charnier
Arlene Faber
as Angie Boca
Andre Ernotte
as La Valle
Randy Jurgensen
as Police Sergeant
William Coke
as Motorman
Alan Weeks
as Drug Pusher
Ben Marino
as Lou Boca
Al Fann
as Undercover Agent
Maureen Mooney
as Bicycle Girl
Robert Weil
as Auctioneer
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The French Connection

Critic Reviews for The French Connection

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (9)

Its trigger-fast, explosive scenes and high-tension chase sequences (the one in "Bullitt" pales by comparison) will have you literally gasping for breath.

Full Review… | February 22, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

There is only one problem with the excitement generated by this film. After it is over, you will walk out of the theater and, as I did, curse the tedium of your own life. I kept looking for someone who I could throw up against a wall.

Full Review… | January 18, 2013
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

A knockout police thriller with so much jarring excitement that it almost calls for comic-book expletives. POW! ZOWIE!

Full Review… | February 20, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Producer Philip D'Antoni and screenwriter Ernest Tidyman have added enough fictional flesh to provide director William Friedkin and his overall topnotch cast with plenty of material, and they make the most of it.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008
Top Critic

Popeye also earned counterculture points by mistakenly shooting a federal agent and exhibiting a conspicuous lack of remorse.

Full Review… | August 28, 2007
Village Voice
Top Critic

This 1971 thriller about a heroin bust is solid, slick filmmaking, full of dirty cops, shrewd operators, and slam-bang action.

Full Review… | December 13, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The French Connection

An intelligent and at times gripping thriller that features admirably-shot action sequences and well-executed cinematography.

Matthew Samuel Mirliani
Matthew Samuel Mirliani

Super Reviewer

Exciting. Surprising. And (not surprising!) and excellent performance by Gene Hackman.

Christian C

Super Reviewer

Friedkin's 'French Connection' is a brilliant mixture of European style cinematic technique, and a classic American background and story. With these two strengths it becomes a powerhouse of a film.

Based on the true story of a NYPD narcotics bureau bust, 'FC' is led by the two brilliant actors, Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, who play detectives Popeye Dole and Buddy Russo. The fast-paced story, packed with cinematically irresistible moments as the car chase, alongside other great set pieces, is backed by an interesting, tense, but gently unwinding story-a perfect balance is struck.

The acting from obsessive Hackman is superb, the extent of the development of his character not fully appreciated until the end of the picture. Hackman is beautifully supported by Scheider who offers a whole new layer and perspective on the seedy NY we view, and the case we follow. But perhaps the most interesting performance comes from Fernando Rey-who plays the sly villain Alain Charnier.

Both the acting and the story are realistic. Hackman, nor Scheider, are classic, good-looking Hollywood action men-they are scruffy, street smart, obsessive souls who we admire but wouldn't want to be. Nor is the villain clever but too clever for his own good-he often outsmarts the detectives and matches or tops their intelligence.

We cannot praise the acting without first giving massive credit to William Friedkin, whose brilliant direction of both the acting and set pieces is in a class of its own. The genius of this film is astonishing. Added with this the brilliant score and excellent, natural script make 'FC' a wonder.

The film, deservedly, took best picture, best screenplay (adapted) and best actor at the annual Oscars. It is a brilliant example of filmmaking which rivals the greatest of crime and thriller films. Superb in every way.

Adam Kelly
Adam Kelly

Super Reviewer

The French Connection Quotes

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– Submitted by Jesse K (2 years ago)

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