Based on a true story, this action-filled thriller with its renowned chase scene, won five Oscars in 1971, including Best Picture, Director (William Friedkin) and Actor for Gene Hackman. Now, the special edition DVD inclu... more »des exclusive commentaries with Hackman, Scheider, and Friedkin, "Making the Connection: The Untold Stories, " documentary, the BBC?s "Poughkeepsie Shuffle," deleted scenes and more! Maverick detectives Doyle (Hackman) and Russo (Roy Scheider) pursue a deadly narcotics smuggling ring and ultimately uncover The French Connection.« less
Classic film gets a pointless, gimmicky, distracting visual
Hugo D. Hackenbush | Main Street, USA | 03/17/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
""The French Connection" is a fantastic time capsule of a film; a solid crime drama enhanced tremendously by great performances, terrific stunt work and wonderful location shooting in and around NYC that captures The Big Apple during its 1970's heyday as a scummy, gritty cesspool of a town. It's a fine example of 1970's American cinema, a classic of its type and a must-see, if not a must-own, for fans of crime dramas and police procedurals.
Regarding specifically the Blu-Ray edition of the film, Director William Friedkin has apparently decided that the gritty, documentary-like feel to the original cinematography of his film was not gritty and documentary-like enough; instead of utilizing technological advances to clean up or restore an original master of this classic film, director Friedkin decided that he would use digital technology to make the film look decidedly worse. Using various digital filters, he has amped up the graininess, distorted and smeared the color scheme, while blowing out the contrast in order to give "The French Connection" a worn-out, distorted look that really does change the visuals of the film.
Unfortunately, rather than giving the film a more "authentic" feel (as was the director's intention), this digital makeover adds absolutely nothing to the film's impact save for scads of fake film grain, alternately faded and overly-saturated hues and crappier contrast. I am by no means a film purist, but the fact is this visual overhaul is pointless, gimmicky and (most problematic) extremely distracting. The added grain will astonish you during certain parts of the film... and not in a good way. People with large televisions especially be warned.
This is what "The French Connection" cinematographer Owen Roizman had to say on the matter of the film's "new" look:
"I wasn't consulted. I was appalled by it. I don't know what Billy (director William Friedkin) was thinking. It's not the film that I shot, and I certainly want to wash my hands of having had anything to do with this transfer, which I feel is atrocious."
I sympathize with you, Mr. Roizman.
Mr. Friedkin's decision to experiment with the film's original cinematography wouldn't be much of an issue if the original version of the film was included alongside the digitally-altered version, but alas, this is not the case with this blu-ray release. On the contrary, Mr. Friedkin has stated that this new, digitally-altered version of "The French Connection" is how this classic film will unfortunately be presented in future releases from here on end.
I infinitely prefer the 2001 Five-Star Collection 2-disc DVD set, and wholeheartedly recommend it over this Blu-Ray. The remastering on the THX-approved 2001 DVD is terrific (looking especially good upconverted via 1080p), the original cinematography is preserved, the 5.1 Dolby Digital sounds great, and its got hours of extras (in fact, its got virtually all of the extras found on the Blu-Ray incarnation); right now, it can be had brand new for around the same price as the blu-ray edition... but snap it up while you can, as the two-disc edition is currently out-of-print. As another alternative, if you can live without most of the extras, the 2005 single-disc DVD release has the same mastering as the 2001 Five-Star Collection 2-disc DVD set, is currently still in circulation, and can be bought brand new for around $7.00.
If you must check out this Blu-Ray, rent before you buy.
Perhaps its time for Mr. Friedkin to make a new film rather than waste time tinkering on his old ones (or, judging by his last film "Bug", maybe not).
"The Tuminaro Case"
M. G Watson | Los Angeles | 08/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Tuminaro Case. That is what the law enforcement community calls "the French Connection" case of 1968. Two rough-and-tumble NYPD Narcotics detectives named Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso stumbled on a heroin-smuggling ring which spanned the Atlantic and linked the New York Mafia with a French mob operating out of Marsailles, which, if you are not familiar with it, is a great port city in the Mediterranean famous for, among other things, being a stop on the great heroin pipeline between Turkey, Siciily, Corsica, Continental Europe, and the Big Apple. This discovery was the birth of the understanding that the heroin trade was big international business, being conducted on a breathtaking scale, and the efforts of local cops and a few federal agents to stop it by busting junkies and street dealers was as ludicrous as handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.
In the end, somewhere between 100 - 300 kilos of pure heroin were seized, the ring was smashed, two cops sprung to fame by making the big case ("Went through The Door", in NYPD Narc lexicon), and the soon-to-be legendary NYPD Special Investigations Unit was created. But at what cost, and to what end?This is what the film version of "The French Connection" examines, changing the names of the players (to Popeye Doyle, played by the great Gene Hackman, and Cloudy Russo, played by the criminally underrated Roy Schieder, respectively) but leaving the basic facts of the story intact. Very few movies have attempted to show the methodology and mind-set of Narc detectives without either glamorizing them or apologizing for them; "TFC" does neither. Doyle is a truly disgusting human being, but a [darn] good cop. He has the ego, the spleen, the recklessness, and the obsessive won't-let-go mentality of a pit bull, which more or less typefied the Narcs of the pre-Knapp Comission years. If you want a cop like Doyle off your case, you pretty much have to kill him. And if you try, don't miss. The SIU, an elite branch of the Narcotics Division, was born during this investigation. No police unit in history probably bagged more hard drugs, busted more big-name dealers, or wrought such havoc with the drug trade in the Big Apple. On the other hand, no police unit in history ever broke so many laws doing it:
the tactics used by Doyle and Russo in "TFC" became standard procedure for the SIU: Illegal wiretaps. Shakedowns. Theft of money. Distribution of heroin to informants. Perjury. Extortion. Entrapment. You name it, they did it, and operated with virtually no supervision for about ten years before another famous cop, Bob Leuici, who got his own movie ("Prince of the City") brought down the house by exposing its inherent corruption. About seventy detectives served in SUI and of them, more than fifty ended up being indicted, and most went to prison. A number killed themselves. In a moment of true irony, several SIU detectives were fingered in the theft of 300 pounds of heroin from the police evidence lockup. The heroin in question was the evidence seized by Egan and Grosso in the Tuminaro Case. So in the end, it was largely for nothing. The H hit the street anyway.I read some review of this film which question its morality, its supposed affirmantion of the 'war on drugs' and even liken "Connection" to the Nazi propiganda film "Triumph of the Will" because it seems to endorse the ends-justifying-tactics of Doyle and Russo. These people are missing the point entirely. The French Connection is not politicized fiction, like "Blow." It is a real case, the detectives were real people, and these were the real methods they used to crack it. The scene where Hackman chases his would-be assassin all across New York, endangering the lives of about 100 people in the process, says more than any dialogue could about his personality. In other words, this movie isn't about the drug trade, it's about the cops who fight it.
"TFC" is NOT an endorsement of the war on drugs; it simply lays out what happened here in a dramatized fashion. Like all great movies, it does not tell the viewer what to think but allows him/her to come to his own conclusion. And by the way, the movie most certainly DOES imply that the drug war, or at least this particular battle in it, was futile. The 'what happened to them' blurbs at the end of the film demonstrate this in no uncertain terms. Looking back I see this is not a proper review of the film but more of a rant. ...I'm through venting. Sorry. I'll make up for it with this: "The French Connection" is a great crime drama, brilliantly acted, superbly directed, and deserves every bit of its reputation as one of the greatest films of all time. I'm going to buy it on DVD today."
One of the greatest films ever made
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 10/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even though there's nothing to say about this now 35-year-old masterpiece that hasn't been said by someone somewhere, I can't resist offering my opinion on the greatest cop movie ever made and, in all likelihood, one of the 10 best films ever made.
How can a film be better than this one? It deservedly won five Oscars including best picture, best actor (Gene Hackman), its script and editing. Film editing is probably the most common downfall of a movie that is the least understood by the average filmgoer. aside from inane scriptwriting, it is editing that either turns individual scenes into something larger that its parts or robs those scenes of their vigor and value by misplacing them in the overall sequence of events.
There are so many good things going on in this film -- the action, ultra-intelligent script based on a real life incident, the acting, the locations, the searing score using knife sharp high strings and bellowing lower strings, and William Friedkin's monumental direction that included the unplanned train chase scene that is now considered the greatest chase in film ("We didn't ask anyone for a permit," Friedkin said. "We just did it.") -- that it is somewhat foolhardy to identify one element as the key to this masterpiece. Still, I believe the editing is what transforms "French Connection" from five stars to masterpiece.
I first saw this movie in 1971 during a matinee at an old big city theatre, now bulldozed, the kind of theatre that used to exist before malls took over the industry. While the chase scene was just as riveting then as now on the big screen, it was an earlier scene that more captivated me.
In the second scene, Hackman and Scheider go to a drinking establishment where a Supremes-like trio is singing. The reality and scope of this scene far more overwhelmed me on the big screen than any other. It also happens to be the scene where the two cops first identify bad guy Tony LoBianco -- who followed his success in this film with a lot of appearances on the 1970s CBS cop show "Kojak" -- as an emerging kingpin throwing around money with some druggie hotshots.
It probably isn't possible to explain to today's moviegoers what a drug kingpin was circa 1971. Drugs are so ingrained in our culture now, with kids regularly taking them to and selling them in school, that the profundity of such a scene in a film can no longer have the same meaning three and one-half decades later.
The final scene, in the decrepit buildings on Riker's Island, is another ultrarealistic scene that puts the viewer at the scene of the crime and the ongoing melodrama. That inconclusive ending was true and commonplace for its period, a time when the "antihero" film was emerging. The popular cop films from the "Dirty Harry" series, as well as Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" films, were clearly influenced by the antihero aspects of the "The French Connection" cops and their futility.
A cast note: Marcel Bozzuffi, the hitman character known as Pierre Nicoli in the film, played a different type of killer two years earlier in the remarkable 1969 French film "Z", a political thriller with much of "The French Connection"'s sizzling energy. And like this film, "Z" was also based on true events. Check this out next time you're in the mood for one of the better films of that era.
Far from being a timepiece, this film is just as contemporary today as it was when it came out -- a time when there was no Internet, cell phones or cable television, there was only one American telephone company and gas cost about 30 cents a gallon. This film will always be among the handful of critics' short A-list movies and I'll continue to watch it at every opportunity. I suggest you take a look if you've never seen it. There will never be another quite like it."
Classic Film Noir.
Bernard Chapin | CHICAGO! USA | 01/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I just saw this one the other day for the second time and was amazed at how riveting it still is. It's also one of the only times that I can think of where a car chase scene rises to the level of art. There is practically nothing in this movie that is black and white. Even after all these years of cultural and social decline, Hackman's final words to Roy Scheider still manage to disturb. I was further surprised at how pertinent the themes are and at the unpredictability of the plot turns. The acting is first rate with the French actors being well chosen."
One word: GREAT!
weirdo_87 | Rancho Cucamonga, CA USA | 10/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While I do not agree with some of The French Connection's Oscar wins (A Clockwork Orange was the Best Picture of 1971), I still believe that this is one of the best action movies ever made. Gene Hackman deservedly won an Academy Award for his performance as Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, who along with his partner "Cloudy" Russo (Roy Scheider) attempt to bring down a narcotics ring. The Elevated train-car chase has gone down in cinema history as possibly the best car chase ever filmed. One of the things that make this film so great is its gritty realism. All the sets used are actual interiors and there was hardly any lighting. Director William Friedkin (Who won an Oscar) had a background in documentary. His technique gives a realistic feel to the movie, as if we are there. Recently, when my family decided to purchase a DVD player, the first DVD I got for it was the recently released "Five-Star Collection" Two Disc set of this movie. The picture quality is excellent. Not a single scratch and no `jittery' frames. There are some scenes that are grainy, especially the opening shots in Marseilles. But this is probably because it was filmed this way. The second disc is loaded with features. There are seven deleted scenes, which can come with or without William Freidkin's commentary. Most of these scenes are character development scenes. But while fascinating to watch them, after you see them you'll understand why they were cut out. There are also two documentaries: BBC's "Poughkeepsie Shuffle" and a special 30th anniversary documentary that covers the French Connection case, Robin Chases's book and the movie's making. Overall, this is an excellent DVD that is well worth investing in."