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The French Connection (1971)

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A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

Director:

William Friedkin

Writers:

Ernest Tidyman (screenplay by), Robin Moore (based on the book by)
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Popularity
3,584 ( 289)
Won 5 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gene Hackman ... Jimmy Doyle
Fernando Rey ... Alain Charnier
Roy Scheider ... Buddy Russo
Tony Lo Bianco ... Sal Boca
Marcel Bozzuffi ... Pierre Nicoli
Frédéric de Pasquale Frédéric de Pasquale ... Devereaux (as Frederic De Pasquale)
Bill Hickman ... Mulderig
Ann Rebbot Ann Rebbot ... Marie Charnier
Harold Gary Harold Gary ... Weinstock
Arlene Farber Arlene Farber ... Angie Boca
Eddie Egan ... Simonson
André Ernotte André Ernotte ... La Valle (as Andre Ernotte)
Sonny Grosso Sonny Grosso ... Klein
Benny Marino Benny Marino ... Lou Boca
Patrick McDermott ... Chemist (as Pat McDermott)
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Storyline

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. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Doyle is bad news - but a good cop. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

9 October 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Doyle See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$51,700,000, 31 December 1973
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)| 4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to William Friedkin on his DVD commentary, the scene where Weinstock's chemist tests the heroin's purity uses actual heroin, and not flour or cornstarch or some other commonly used substitute. See more »

Goofs

The car/train chase passes the same school four times, twice in each direction. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Merry Christmas. What's your name, little boy?
Little Boy: Eric.
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Uh-huh, Eric. What do you want for Christmas Eric? Hmmm?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The 20th-Century Fox logo fades in in black and white and then dissolves to color. See more »

Alternate Versions

The version released on first Blu-ray release features a radically-different color scheme from all earlier versions - it was recolored with the assistance of 'William Friedkin (I)'. The second Blu-ray release features a color scheme more like all the previous versions. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Good Eats: Fry Hard (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Again
(uncredited)
Music by Lionel Newman
[Played on piano at the restaurant where Charnier and Nicoli dine]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A masterpiece of NYC hard-edged realism
29 April 2005 | by mstomasoSee all my reviews

This is an intense, unremitting, intelligent and incredibly fast-paced film which blends action, cinematic realism, art and humor into a masterwork of hard-edged crime drama. But to categorize this film as drama, suspense or action really does violence to it. This is just a great film, and it doesn't fit comfortably into any category with which I am aware.

Don't look here for any sense of fantasy-justice or n'er-do-wrong comic book heroism. Look here instead for gut wrenching nihilism, frustration with the unfairness of criminal justice in the hands of bureaucracy, and a solid, plot-driven story about a couple of cops who are just trying to do their jobs as best they can.

And by all means, don't watch this film if you aren't fully awake and willing to be taken down the electric, ambiguous, and compelling roads it leads to. If you watch this film with any part of your brain turned off you'll end up asking questions like "plot, what plot?" The fact that some people can't find it reflects more on them as film-watchers than it does on this film. This film does not offer passive entertainment like most of the contemporary action market does. It makes you pay attention, though, at times you might not want to.

Hackman and Scheider are incredible, with some of the greatest chemistry I have ever seen between two young actors. They play two hard-ass NYC detectives looking to end the war on drugs more-or-less permanently by taking down an international conspiracy which they have just barely sniffed out. And make no mistake, they, particularly Hackman's "Popeye Doyle" are at war, and treat their jobs as a battlefield. Doyle pursues his quarry with utterly wreckless abandon, endangering the lives of dozens of people along the way. While both men are absolutely terrific, this stands out as one of Hackman's greatest performances, and his Oscar is well-deserved (not something you will see me say often). Backed by a strong supporting cast, and some of the best live-action cinematography of the late 20th century, this film does not allow you to turn away, get popcorn, or even deal with bodily functions for its entire duration.

Considered in the early 70s to be 'shockingly violent', this film does not even reach a tenth the degree of passive violent repulsion of the average Tarantino film, and it relies, instead, on amazing performances, flawless direction, a phenomenal post-modern soundtrack and edgy, tense camera-work. Unlike contemporary action film garbage, it also gives you complex characters who you can care about, but never fully understand. I will cut this review short because I am running out of superlatives. Anybody remotely interested in expanding or just appreciating the artistic breadth and depth of mainstream film needs to see this.


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