THE FRENCH CONNECTION
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Gene Hackman as JIMMY DOYLE
Fernando Rey as ALAIN CHARNIER
Roy Scheider as DET. BUDDY RUSSO
Tony Lo Bianco as SAL BOCA
Marcel Bozzuffi as PIERRE NICOLI
Frédéric de Pasquale as DEVEREAUX
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: William Friedkin
BY KEVIN CARR
70s maverick director William Friedkin had a real breakthrough with “The French Connection” in 1971. The movie tells the story of two hard-nosed cops in New York City who stumble into a high-level drug-smuggling plot. Gene Hackman became a star as “Popeye” Doyle, and Roy Scheider gives a generous performance as his partner.
“The French Connection” is very different from the modern cop film, and it really re-wrote the book for these movies in the 70s. Like “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” “The French Connection” has an extremely visceral feel to it. The heroes are unlikely stars and not pretty boys that you’d expect for an action film. Still, it’s not an action film at all, in spite of its famous car chase sequence.
Friedkin gives “The French Connection” a strong, unique look that is wholly 70s but relateable outside of the era. It’s a slow burn and often having an undetermined direction. Still, it’s one of the better films from this decade, and one that is living forever.
Special features include commentaries by Friedkin as well as one with Hackman and Scheider. There’s also a trivia track and an isolated score track, plus deleted scenes with director commentary. Finally, there’s a slew of featurettes to keep the viewer busy long after the movie plays out: “Anatomy of a Chase,” “Hackman on Doyle,’ “Friedkin and Grosso Remember the Real French Connection,” “Scene of the Crime,” “Cop Jazz: The Music of Don Ellis,” “Rogue Cop: The Noir Connection” and “Making the Connection: The Untold Stories of the French Connection.”