Title:  The French Connection

Year: 1971

Genre:  Action | Crime | Drama |

Runtime: 104 min

Director:   William Friedkin

Starring:   Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey


William Friedkin’s gritty police drama portrays two tough New York City cops trying to intercept a huge heroin shipment coming from France. An interesting contrast is established between ‘Popeye’ Doyle, a short-tempered alcoholic bigot who is nevertheless a hard-working and dedicated police officer, and his nemesis Alain Charnier, a suave and urbane gentleman who is nevertheless a criminal and one of the largest drug suppliers of pure heroin to North America. During the surveillance and eventual bust, Friedkin provides one of the most gripping and memorable car chase sequences ever filmed.


The French Connection, which established a new genre with a hard-core cop film, authenticity where the city is just much as a character as the actors. The realistic tone, crafted in the film; highlights a narrative that is satisfied visually, even fifty years later. It provides a documentarian way of storytelling with detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy Russo as front-figures. With Hackman’s charismatic portrayal as the lead Doyle and an imperative directing from William Friedkin were everything flows through at a great pace.

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Gene Hackman earned an Oscar for his performance and he is worth it. Scheider’s Russo is more in the background as does not really add anything to the drama. The cat-and-mouse-hunt is entertaining in one way but it still exhausting in another. Additionally, there is no real depth and struggle within any of these characters. The script makes them feel deep, but it’s not contributed to an orderly fashion. As much as the character of Jimmy Doyle is put up for as a lead and the entourage, he is on, it’s not convincing enough to make him feel connected. The portrayal is almost flawless, and few other cops have the same energy has when Hackman in the frame, but personal information or struggle that would make him vulnerable is not presented.

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Roy Scheider, who after this became famous because of Jaws, lives on in the background and does not show for so much. He does not have enough screen time to make a connection and is added in scenes with a few lines, otherwise, he’s sorts of hard to remember. The characters are forgettable in their whole. It is just a cop-movie chasing a drug-ring, it is not enough to make an attachment to it. The direction, however, flows authentically through the story within the editing which is the story strong suit. Without it, it falls flat. ´The chase scenes through Brooklyn are timeless and sets an example, on how buddy-cop should be filmed and edit.


With strong preservation on the directing and editing, it’s short runtime cuts down the evolvement and progress of the narrative it needed. The directing makes the film feel whole, otherwise, it would be strong enough. It’s hard-core authentic tone and documentarian attribute conserve its potential as a whole but struggles on character-development and partly the narrative.

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