Saturday, January 19, 2008

The French Connection

The French Connection; crime, USA, 1971; D: William Friedkin, S: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzuffi, Frédéric de Pasquale, Bill Hickman, Ann Rebbot

Marseilles. A policeman gets shot. New York. Cops Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle and Buddy Russo catch a drug dealer, but fail to discover his superior. They are honest, but slightly tough cops, accidentally discovering new dealers during their break at the bar and follow them to the store of Mr. Boca. Since they suspect that a new narcotic shipment will arrive there, they start to surveil them. Even French actor Devereaux is involved in the deal and plans to earn a lot of money in New York. Boca dies in a car accident, while some hitman tries to assassinate Doyle, but he actually catches and shoots him. Doyle discovers heroin in Devereaux's car, but decides not to say anything and create a trap for him with the police. Some criminals get away, but most get arrested by the police.

Excellent crime thriller "The French Connection" doesn't stick to idealised portrait of policemen like a lot of films did before it and simply, calmly, but elaborately displays its story, while director William Friedkin actually made a similar movie to this one 14 years later with the equally good "To Live and Die in L. A." Gene Hackman, then a virtually unknown actor, leaves behind a top notch performance as the main protagonist, tough cop Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: in his first scene, he is chasing after a runaway criminal dressed as Santa Claus (!) with his partner Buddy Russo, while in another scene he is in his normal clothes and acts in front of the crowd as if he is having an argument with a drug dealer who is actually his spy in disguise. In some other scene, during a raid, everyone drops their drug on the floor. The film is full with such juicy written details and passionate cineaste flair, but Roy Scheider is equally as good as Hackman in playing his partner Buddy, even though he is just an episodic character, while many who are disappointed at the cold, surgical story will be compensated by an abundance of intelligent situations, some of which became classics that set new standards of crime genre, like the legendary car chase scene after a elevated train, which is something every movie buff should see.


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