The French Connection Reviews
The first thing that struck me when watching the film was the grimness of 1970s New York City, its highways, streets and subway are excellently captured by the director with its sounds of street horns replacing the need for a soundtrack.
The main characters are police officers Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his slightly younger partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider).
Hackman and Scheider both look so young when I consider there later roles in films such as Jaws (Scheider) and the Superman franchise (Hackman).
Popeye (not the cartoon character!) is an overtly racist, streetwise cop whilst Russo is the calming influence in the partnership!
The drug side is led by Marseilles entrepreneur Charnier (Fernando Rey), the late Spanish Rey is perhaps best known for his work on some of Luis Buñuel films and has a filmography as big as anyone!
Tony Lo Bianco who I only watched last week in the cult classic The Honeymoon Killers also has a role.
The grime of New York is contrasted with the opulance of Marseilles and a brief scene in Washington DC.
A chase sequence featuring a gas guzzling car of the era against an overhead Subway train is memorable for its editing and realism.
The film won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor (Hackman) and editing Oscars.
Whilst good I don't actually rate it as good as Dirty Harry starring Clint Eastwood. Again perhaps its is the grime of a cold, winter New York versus the relative sunshine of San Francisco?
Also the film ends pretty downbeat with drugs being smuggled into New York via a Lincoln car, Charnier escaping the law and a ruined building scene.
Under the surface, though, we see the toll this takes upon law enforcement and the public at large. In pursuit of a $31 million heroine deal, Gene Hackman's Det. "Popeye" Doyle slowly loses his sanity and perspective of what his role as a police officer is in the first place. During the iconic train pursuit, he steals a car, wrecks it several times, and puts the Brooklyn pedestrian population in needless danger. His mind focuses only on the bust and everything else is consequential. That alone makes the final seconds of the film that more psychologically brutal.
We can take Doyle's struggle and superimpose it on the War on Drugs itself. What is the cost to reward ratio in outlawing narcotics and targeting minority and liberal communities by proxy? No one at the time had that much foresight, but in retrospect "The French Connection" makes a poignant commentary. 7.9/10
Great action and acting makes The French Connection a tense police thriller.
The long and silent stakeout and foot pursuit scenes commanded my rapt attention.
Watched this on 8/5/16
The late 60s and the 70s changed American cinema (Glory days of New Hollywood Era) with daring realism in their films and finally took the Hollywood dazzle out of these films until Star Wars IV came and did a U-turn that resulted in studio controlled films meant for 10 year olds ever since. In this context, French Connection is a landmark achievement for the changing 70s cinema as well as the best work from William Friedkin. The film, although starts off slow, carries terrific pacing and tight, thrilling scenes. The cinematography, score and the lead actors all add to its taste.
Exhilarating (almost overwhelming) action movie about narcotics cops in N.Y.C. who attempt to pull the plug on a major drug deal (it's essentially one long chase). Stellar film leads to chilling conclusion; Hackman is truly unforgettable. Some movie fans consider this to also have the most exciting car chase ever. Five Oscars: Picture, Actor, Director, Script, Editing. Followed by a sequel.
Doyle (Gene Hackman) is a cop in the narcotics bureau who is often criticized for his backfired hunches but well supported by his chief along with his partner Russo (Roy Scheider). Doyle and Russo come across a charismatic couple Boca's in a bar and tails them since they had a bad feeling. Their observation provides leads into some unknown shady deal about to happen. All this seems connected to a Frenchman Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) but the details are still hazy. But Doyle's perseverance and unconventional work ethics helps to put pieces together.
Firstly a special commendation should go for the intense and exhilarating chase sequence between a car and a hijacked train. A role of an obsessed cop or a detective is nothing new but when played by someone as talented as Gene Hackman it just gets better. Hackman plays the role with measured intensity, carelessness, obsession and a sense of humor. Roy Scheider gives an apt supporting role while Fernando Rey is very inconsistent ebbing and surging the character's image constantly. Background score isn't too loud which is otherwise very common for thrillers during its era while the photography is very enjoyable with its perfect wide shots and intense maneuvering for additional thrills. The graphic violence lacks technical prowess succumbing to a low quality finished product in a couple of scenes. Though a little disconnected in the beginning, the screenplay pulls up from its lull intensifying and ends up playing the winning role for the movie.
If it ends well, all is well