The French Connection (1971) and The French Connection II (19751) from Tuna
French Connection (1971) is being released finally in a Deluxe set
that includes both French Connection 1 and 2, and an entire DVD of
special features for French Connection 1. It is refreshing to see a
studio release the deluxe edition first, rather than a bare bones
increasingly more desirable ones. When I say this in the theaters, I thought it was a good flick with some real high points, a new approach to an action film, but a little slow, especially in getting started. I had not seen it in 30 years, and my opinion hasn't changed, except that it did become the model for a lot of crime actioners.
For the few who don't know the story, it is about two New York narcotics officers, Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle and Roy Scheider as Buddy Russo, who nearly accidentally uncover a plot to smuggle a lot of heroin from Marseilles to New York. The head of the "French Connection" is played by Fernando Rey.
The film is based on a true story, as are all three of the principals. Doyle's character was, in fact, even more interesting than depicted in the film. He always played bad cop, was fond of beating up suspects, drank himself into a stupor after work, then arrested some young girl on a trumped up charge and took her to his messy apartment. This is partly depicted in the film, and provides the only exposure that made it into the final cut. Russo, as usual, comes to wake Doyle up for work, and finds him handcuffed to his bed. We see Maureen Mooney's butt when she walks out of the shower and is surprised by Russo's presence. The deleted scenes show more of Doyle harassing and arresting her. In another deleted scene, a French hot man is shown with an unidentified dominatrix getting whipped.
|In the film, as in real life, they never did get "Frog 1," the Rey character, and all of the heroin vanished from police lock-up. The film won 5 Oscars (Picture, director, editing and writing) and was nominated for three more. It beat out some pretty good competition, including A Clockwork Orange, Hospital, The Last Picture Show, Klute, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Nicholas and Alexandra, and Fiddler on the Roof. Clockwork Orange and Last Picture Show are now rated much higher at IMDB. The commentary by director William Friedkin mainly concerns the technical aspects of the film. OF interest to me was that casting Rey was a mistaken identity, and the entire film was shot on location. Film buffs need to see this trend setting film, and fans of crime suspense action will also like it.||
Connection II (1975) is one of those sequels that just should
not have been made. John Frankenheimer takes over the directing
reigns, and shoots what should be called Popeye's Revenge. Doyle (Hackman
again) comes to Marseiles to kill "Frog 1" (Rey). He does
not realize that he has been set up to bring Rey out into the open. In
act one, Doyle acts like an asshole. Act 2 has him captured and turned
into a heroine addict sandwiched between sloppy drunk episodes, and
act three is the final chase scene where Doyle breaks as many laws as
There is no nudity, no basis in fact, and no reason to watch this film. Maltin says 2 1/2, which I find generous. IMDB readers say 6.2/10. Hackman was nominated for a Golden Globe, which was a good call, as he did as much as he could have with this script. Part of the problem in act three was that a cast of thousands were fighting each other, but we didn't know enough about any of the minor characters to tell who was who. I will give it a C, as a mindless and frenzied action thriller.
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