THE FRENCH CONNECTION

(1971)
With Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzuffi
Directed by William Friedkin
Reviewed by JB

Damn it! Forgot my Metrocard!    It may be difficult for some younger film fans to understand the fuss made over THE FRENCH CONNECTION in its day.  Essentially a slow-moving cat-and-mouse game between two New York City detectives and a ring of drug-smugglers, the film will disappoint crime thriller fans who are used to nonstop action, explosions and heroic catch-phrases (and no, "Did you pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?" does not qualify as one of those)

     Based on the real-life exploits of NYPD Detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Russo, who are both in the film, THE FRENCH CONNECTION is often intentionally tedious, dwelling on the monotony of undercover work as much as anything else.  Nevertheless, it contains a star-making turn by Gene Hackman as Detective "Popeye" Doyle, a hard-drinking, racial-epithet spewing son of a bitch who is so obsessed with catching his prey, he will put others in harm's way without a moment's thought.  Hackman is ably supported by Roy Scheider as Doyle's more stable partner, and Fernando Rey as the bearded drug smuggler Alain Charnier, one of filmdom's suavest villains.

     THE FRENCH CONNECTION is best known for several memorable setpieces, especially an eight-minute sequence of Popeye Doyle in a speeding car, trying to keep up with an elevated train, a sequence that is often called the greatest movie chase of all time. 4 - JB

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