The French Connection

Year: 1971
Production Co: Schine-Moore Productions
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider
To some (including the Academy, which gave it five awards in 1971 including best picture), an absolute classic.

To me (whether it was viewing it 25 years later or I just missed the point), a flatly average police drama, nowhere near Academy Award material.

The biggest let down was constantly reading about cinema's most incredible car chase. With ten minutes to go I was still waiting for it, only then realising it was the one halfway through the bridge where Popeye Doyle is chasing the train as it hurtles overhead on the elevated track. One car following a train above it and hitting a few walls does not make a historical cinematic car chase.

Hackman is Doyle in one of most famous roles as a slovenly and bigoted cop who finds crosses paths with the trail of a big heroin shipment from France.

Together with his partner Cloudy (a pre- Jaws Roy Scheider, Doyle does a lot of running around grimy New York streets, sitting in cars, and generally waiting, making the audience endure it with him.

Notable for the setting and period, from when you can see how much New York has remarketed itself to the world recently. In many films from the 70's and early 80's ( Death Wish and Basket Case being two disparate examples), NY is depicted as an ugly, filthy, dangerous slum. Whether it was intended by the cinematographer or not, many of the shots look like eastern Europe at it's bleakest, all filthy snow, steamy wet streets and dead, bare trees.

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