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Worth A Look: 20.69%
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3 reviews, 40 user ratings

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French Connection, The
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by Slyder

"The definitive blueprint for latter day police dramas"
5 stars

In 1971, a revolution in the detective/police thriller genre arrived with the release of The French Connection; a gritty, fast-paced, documentary-like cop thriller based on a real life multi-million dollar heroin bust in New York City by detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso (whom served as technical advisors to the film). The film went on to be one of the biggest hits of the year and a multi-Oscar winner, and imposed new standards that greatly influenced several cop movies in later years. Films like Lethal Weapon, Heat, LA Confidential, and even TV Series like NYPD Blue and The Shield, all owe their existence to this film.

NYPD Narcotics Detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) decide just for fun to tail an Italian greaser named Sal Boca (Tony Lo Bianco) since they saw him with several high-profile people at a night club and spending money like it meant nothing. After several hours of tailing Boca, Doyle and Russo realize they’re up to something big since Boca maybe the intermediary in a huge heroin switch between Jewish businessman/gangster Joel Weinstock (Harold Gary) and French drug kingpin Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey) and his right-hand man Pierre Nicoli (Marcel Bozzufi).

That’s all you gotta know about the plot. The rest you gotta watch for your own self. Just like Lawrence of Arabia became the ultimate yardstick to which all epics are measured, The French Connection became the same thing to police dramas. No more would police films be stereotyped into black-and-whiteness, where cops are shown as clean-cut, do-no-wrong, saint-like people while the bad guys are simply mean and evil assholes. The film achieves one of two integral parts for it’s realistic portrait thanks to Owen Roizman’s groundbreaking cinematography which uses rough grain film stock in order to give the film a more documentary-like feel, and Ernest Tidyman’s well-developed, character-driven screenplay which introduces to us the hard-boiled cop in the form of Jimmy Doyle. Doyle is a violent, racist, foul-mouthed, mean spirited, reckless cop, whom will do anything to catch his prey no matter if it is at the expense of innocent bystanders or fellow cops. He’s not perfect, he’s a drunkard, and sometimes goes looking for pussy, and several of his hunches have backfired before, even costing the life of a fellow cop. But technically, he’s a good cop. Doyle is the character who drives the film and whether you love him or hate him, you can’t help but feel fascination for what he does whether it’s good or bad. Thanks to this, the black-and-white stereotyped is completely erased and is blurred into a large shade of gray. His partner Buddy Russo is more of a toned-down cop but integral to the story since its Russo who keeps Doyle honest; he doesn’t approve of some things that Doyle does, but he’s loyal to him and goes along with whatever it is that Doyle does.

The film contains a variety of impressive technical standouts. Besides Roizman’s cinematography, William Friedkin’s direction is impressive, always steady-handed but giving the film a tense atmosphere, a fast pace and authentic realism, which is also helped by Don Ellis’s bold but haunting film score, and Gerry Greenberg’s concise editing. This is best shown in the entire car chase scene, which is one of the finest car chases ever made and one of the most memorable scenes ever put on celluloid, not only because it’s very well staged and everything, but also because it represents a climaxing point of Doyle’s manic obsession of getting what he wants, regardless of anything. The ending in the film is not a happy one, and is more of a downbeat and ambiguous ending. But it’s the perfect ending for this film since it pretty much sums up what this film is about. Had it been a happier, predictable ending would’ve gone against everything that the film stands for. There have been many people have actually criticized the film for being clichéd and dated, but that argument holds no merit since it was this very film that gave out those clichés.

The acting is perfect: Gene Hackman gives out what could arguably be the finest performance of his career (ahead of Unforgiven). Fernando Rey is also memorable as the smooth wisecracking Charnier, and his loose-tail scene stands also as another memorable moment in this film. Roy Scheider gives out a dead-on performance that pretty much launched his career full-throttle. The rest of the cast is also great.

In the end, there have been later films that have pretty much imitated and surpassed the technical innovations and clichés that The French Connection imposed way back in the day, and even bettered it with today’s modern-day computer FX and all. But what sets The French Connection apart and puts all those other films to shame is because it’s a character driven film, intelligent in all sorts of ways, armed with an actual story to tell, steady direction, and well staged action scenes and high production and artistic values. Unquestionably one of the most important films ever, The French Connection has aged little, and continues to be the main yardstick into which all cop thrillers are measured. 5-5

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2165&reviewer=235
originally posted: 07/29/04 18:00:30
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell gritty thrilling a classic imho 5 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell gritty thrilling a classic imho 5 stars
5/01/15 Jamie Fantastic movie, so gritty, timeless - yes, indrid cole 's comment's are THAT STUPID 5 stars
5/04/12 Chigwembele Wow. Comments from '99? I wonder if the first commentors are still reading this. 3 stars
4/24/08 Zim BA movie 5 stars
6/16/07 MP Bartley Brutal, yet strangely elegant too. Hackman is amazing and it punches like raw coffee. 5 stars
6/12/07 fools♫gold Though I don't give it a perfect score, I still wouldn't say it's much overrated. 4 stars
3/24/07 Quigley Very good film; great plot and great acting. One of the better cop films that's out there 5 stars
1/07/07 action movie fan one of the greatest films ever. ingrid cold,s comment is laughable 5 stars
9/17/06 Indrid Cold Almost laughable by today's standards. I guess students of film history love it though. 3 stars
6/07/06 Peggy Doty great 5 stars
6/26/05 goatfarmer classic 5 stars
2/23/05 Dusty Johnson What can you say - Great Movie!!!!! 5 stars
2/10/05 Al Guy You could make 50 movies from the stuff lifted from The Fr. . . oh they have. 5 stars
1/14/05 green gremlin simply superb. 5 stars
9/07/04 Jim A touch dated but still watchable. 4 stars
8/16/04 Herolder One of the best police films 5 stars
4/20/04 Alex A masterpiece 5 stars
12/20/03 john a superb thriller - real and very exiting 5 stars
9/07/03 AD fuckin great 5 stars
6/23/03 Jack Bourbon Obviously one of the best films ever made. II is a lot of fun, also. Doyle ROCKS. 5 stars
1/07/03 EMILIE I'm French and Rey sounds perfectly Corsican, as he is supposed to be. Very good film. 5 stars
12/31/02 Jack Sommersby Despite some whopping implausibilities, this is first-rate, gritty stuff. Stellar acting. 4 stars
10/23/02 Anastasia Beaverhausen Hackman is excellent back when Friedkin could direct 5 stars
5/14/02 BaitedSoul Incredible directing, and a dynamic performance by Gene Hackman! 5 stars
2/17/02 Clarance Eah... godfather whooped up on this flick... 2 stars
1/14/02 Murray Castles A very fine film indeed. Hackers is wonderful. 5 stars
11/28/01 Phoenix The best crime movie of all time. The car chase is the best ever put on film. 5 stars
11/20/01 Judith Latham JUST WORTH A LOOK? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? THIS IS A CLASSIC!!!!! 5 stars
10/20/01 Andrew Carden The Director Of This Film Is Very Good, and This Movie Is Fairly Visually Well Done. 4 stars
10/17/01 Ryan classic crime movie 5 stars
8/25/01 Henry Ginsberg one of the best crime films ever made. 5 stars
7/15/01 The Bomb 69 great movie, ending was a lillte strange 5 stars
6/22/01 Christ Kong Lives Damn good, action packed, thinking film. 5 stars
12/07/00 R.W. Welch A somewhat overrated film, but Hackman's perfromance is worth the ticket. 4 stars
12/05/00 Judith Latha, I saw this film in the 70s & it still Blows me away. One of the FINEST ever made. 5 stars
11/27/00 Cristopher Revilla one of the best movies ever, terrific car chase!!! 5 stars
9/03/00 The Extreaminizer This Movie STARTS Action Movies, also the infamous car chase, and an American Classic too. 5 stars
8/18/99 Matthew Bartley Classic, but can anyone tell me what the ending is about 4 stars
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  09-Oct-1971 (R)
  DVD: 07-Feb-2006

  02-Feb-1972 (15)

  02-Feb-1972 (M)

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