William Friedkin’s gritty 1970s classic is the paradigmatic rip-roaring chase film, complete with New York City street and subway pursuits, drug smugglers, corrupt cops, and one good guy, Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle – based on true-life detective Eddie Egan – who makes his own rules.
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Showing the influence of Costa-Gavras, Friedkin's taut, morally complex procedural still works; both as a gritty cat & mouse thriller (that revels in the grime & decay of its 1970s urban settings) & as a character study about pride & obsession pushed to the extremes. Hackman's performance dominates, but Friedkin's use of documentary techniques gives the film a genuine authenticity that enlivens its greatest moments.
DCP, rewatched, re-rating. I already liked it a lot but having seen it on tv several years ago, i hadn't a clear notion of its extraordinary ability to show the real space of New York city and to integrate it in such distinct and concentrationary fictional profusion, playing with the fragmentation of that space with "trompe l'oeil" in such remarkable way. One of the great New York movies of the 70s.
Rather single-minded and grungy police procedural shot through with exciting detail achieved through jump cuts, low key lighting, judicious musical cues and Freidkin's visceral verisimilitude. Rey brings unexpected (and welcome) euro-elegance to the role of Charnier. Time has perhaps dimmed its pedigree but that's more due to a pile-up of imitation than a dimming of original quality. That said, once is enough.
Lurches forth with vigor and masculinity. There's nothing soft in this film and the very tone is virile, right down to the dirty humor, macho talk, and assured confidence of the buddy-buddy relationship between Hackman and Scheider. This means it's not 'traditionally' dramatic in tender emotions, but is still dramatic in how gripping and aggressive it makes even its police procedural element out of actionless action.
This is pure filmmaking. An intense look at the drug world and the people who work to bring them down. Gene Hackman is at the top of his form as the rough and tumble Popeye Doyle and this film also features one of the greatest car chases of all time. Absolutely heart pounding.
It's like High & Low in reverse - the beginning is slow and very much like a police procedural and then the second half kicks the film in high gear with a terrific edge-of-your-seat chase sequence. I love the handheld feel of the camera. A lot of fun.
The French Connection weaves grittiness and magnificence beautifully as it tells the (mostly) true story of one of the biggest drug busts in history. William Friedkin shoots it like a low-budget documentary. Between that and Don Ellis' ominous score the whole movie feels like a police ride along you're not going to walk away from. Throw in the greatest chase scene of all time and you're in business.
I'll admit Gene Hackman was great and there are some wonderful scenes, especially the chase at the train station.
Unfortunately, time hasn't really treated this film well. Seeing as it was a best picture winner at the Oscars, I felt a tad underwhelmed by it.