Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The French Connection (1971, William Friedkin)
Why have I never seen The French Connection before? Good question. It is considered a classic. One of the most praised action films of all time. A first rate cast. A director responsible for several films I've enjoyed (The Exorcist and Cruising being my favorites). Did I forget anything? This was definitely one of those classic "I should see that eventually" film. Well I picked up a copy at my local library (I think this is the third time I've taken it out) and the right before it was due back I figured "what the hell?" I'll give it a shot.
Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) and his partner Buddy Russo (Roy Scheider) are hard-assed New York cops who would rather stay up all night staking out a suspect than sleep (regardless of how much booze they've had to drink). Between busting dealers, they stumble upon Sal Boca (Tony Lo Bianco), a shop owner who they suspect to be in on a big drug deal. The Feds get involved and the duo end up embroiled in an international drug ring, led by Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey), who will stop at nothing to make sure the deal goes as planned.
To say The French Connection is a classic action film isn't doing it justice. It is a frenetic, gripping, funny, smart action film with great performances and some of the best chase scenes ever filmed. Hackman owns as the tough, booze-guzzling cop with the stick-to-itiveness of a piece of fly paper. Scheider is right up there with Hackman as his reluctant yet dedicated partner. I really can't think of one thing I didn't like about this film. William Friedkin's direction puts you right in the middle of the action and doesn't let you catch your breath until the end credits begin to roll. Should there be another person on Earth who has never seen The French Connection, I can't urge you enough to check it out.