Two NYC Narcotics cops investigate a drug smuggling
ring that's being controlled by some French nationals.
The French Connection (1971)
Directed by William Friedkin
Written by Ernest Tidyman
Starring Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey,
Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzuffi, Bill Hickman
Based on the book by Robin Moore
Oscar Wins - Best Picture, Best Actor (Gene Hackman),
Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Roy Scheider),
Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing
The French Connection is an smart, engaging crime thriller that stands as Gene Hackman's strongest performance. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle is a hard-nosed son of a bitch who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring down the heroin smuggling operation he's stumbled onto. He's less of a hero and more of an antihero, almost like a dirty cop who has a sudden change of heart. Or at least, that's what I took away from the film. It's a standout in an otherwise stale genre of cop dramas, and it's stood the test of time.
Popeye Doyle (Hackman) and his partner Cloudy Russo (Scheider) are determined to bust whoever is planning on bringing in a large shipment of heroin into the city. What they don't know is that the operation stretches across the ocean to France, and is headed up by French national Alain Charnier (Rey). Once Doyle makes the connection, the action never stops, particularly during one intense as hell car chase that doesn't let up even once. This movie feels raw, like it was made on a handheld camera. William Friedkin is a hell of a filmmaker and way ahead of his time, a feat he would prove again just two years later with The Exorcist. The man knows how to tell a timeless story, that's for damn sure.
The French Connection does take a bit to get going, but it's all important set-up that will be crucial to your understanding of the ins and outs of the story. The ending is infuriatingly anticlimactic though, so be prepared to be pissed off. Amazingly, this was all based on a true NYC heroin bust, which makes me happy that the two cops were immortalized in the form of two flawless performances from Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider. The French Connection remains one of the most significant films of the 1970's, and not just for its Best Picture win. Mostly, Friedkin's guerilla style approach to filmmaking and stunts, which all help make this film a standout.
William Friedkin’s The French Connection completely dominated the 44th Academy Awards, including the win for Best Picture. It’s one of those films that has stood the test of time and has aged like fine wine. The film is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Robin Moore that came out a couple years before. We are witnesses to some absolutely thrilling stuff here as detectives Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy ‘Cloudy’ Russo (Roy Scheider) chase after the French criminal, Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) in some edge of your seat kind of fashion. You’re going to want to put your phone in the charger for this fast-paced and surprisingly smart film for being one built on men chasing each other on foot or in cars.