Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – The French Connection (1971)

Starring Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey & Roy Scheider

Rating 5/10

It all comes down to the last 3 minutes of this film. When all the stakeouts, car and foot chases are done and dusted this movie hits its crescendo.

The French Connection is based on a true story, as are all good crime stories. It begins in Marseilles with those dubbed ‘the french connection’. Here we meet Alain Charnier (Rey) who is heading off to the US of A to deal some druggy drugs. Cut to Brooklyn and super cop James ‘Popeye’ Doyle (Hackman) roams the streets looking for the big wig drug lords.

He has a dodgy past. His last few busts have been… well… busts. But this time he’s feels he’s on to something huge. His reluctant but loyal partner Buddy ‘Cloudy’ Russo (Scheider)  goes along with all of Popeye’s schemes just because they are partners. When the frenchmen hit the streets of New York City with superstar Henri Devereaux (Frédéric de Pasquale ) all seems to be going to plan. That is, until Popeye stumbles upon them, puts two and two together (counting on his fingers of course) and starts tailing and bugging the be-jilligars out of them.

With his unique hat and squinty eyes Popeyes is not the best at this undercover stuff. He runs, stalks and generally makes a mess of the whole thing and in the end, it is obvious to Charnier that he’s being followed. Tensions rise and so do the car and foot chases. Blood flows as the frenchies and their Brooklyn associates are taken down… but at what price? Huh?

This is a tense, action-packed film. Hackman does a great job running so much and his suspicious looks are well rehearsed. He is a tough cookie. He loves roughing up all the bad boys in town but it is his obsession to take down a major drug lord that gets him into trouble.

This movie is like a loveable teenager. It tries so hard to be grown up. The use of milky fluro fake blood is a little cute. It’s got nothing on today’s realistic gore, c’mon! The typical 70’s grainy zoom has a good go at building tension but it is so outdated now that you expect Ben Stiller to jump in front of the camera with a bad 70’s wig on.

I was expecting a really clever film. A few twists here and there but it was fairly predictable in the end. The music was particularly annoying and at one point funny. When the french gangsters are in the restaurant, the music shrills again. Course after course the audience is treated to more horror-film-esque music, like oooo roast beef, tense!

The scene I loved was when Charnier realised he was being followed and kept hopping on and off the train, like an adult game of tip. It was an interesting film from a historical point of view. You can see one of the twin towers being built and the cars are just daaaaarrrling!

Overall it was an ok film. A good Saturday night filler but not really a great example of a Best Picture Oscar winner! What did you think?

The French Connection Trivia:

  • Budget – around $1,800,000
  • Hackman and Scheider rode with cops for a month before shooting began, ending up with Hackman helping to subdue a suspect.
  • The car crash scene was a real life accident but kept because it looked awesome. But producers had to pay the owner of the car that was damaged.
  • The on-off train scene was filmed without permission of train authorities and took 2 days to film.
  • All extras in bar scene were real life policemen.
  • The straw hat on the back of the car was apparently a universal sign of an undercover cop
  • The santa scene was based on a real tactic of the original policemen (Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso)
  • They used actual heroin in the testing scene unlike some other wussy films that used corn flour. Pah.
From the gritty streets of New York to the gritty streets of New York with The Godfather. Watch it with us and let us know what you think… go on…
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