The French Connection Reviews
Gene Hackman also couldn't have played Doyle any better than he did here, his role as an at-times sadistic cop with a personal chip on his shoulder, thrust within in a gritty, crime-embroiled New York City. But the problem is, there is little-to-no character development, to the extent that despite our longstanding adventure with Doyle, we don't actually care too much of his outcome, this goes likewise with the villains and for Roy Scheider's character. In a movie that's about good versus evil, it's usually vital to give us a character we can relate to, so we can actually distinguish the difference between the good and the evil, so we can actually root for a character's succession. But it never happens, we are presented with the basics of Doyle and that's it, from there on it's about the job.
But as I've previously mentioned, this film is revolutionary in the crime genre, and in cinema as a whole, and I enjoy the experience every time I watch it, the thrilling chase scenes, the gruff embodiment of hate that is Doyle, to the paranoia-clad villains, Friedkin's achievement can't be diminished.
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 Buńuel 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.