Director: William Friedkin
Running Time: 104 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
USA Release Date: 9th October 1971
Watched on Sky+ Tuesday 12th April 2010.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I saw this film many many years ago, I thought it was good, but I don’t think I really appreciated it as much as I did this time around. It won five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor for Gene Hackman and Best Director for William Friedkin. A gritty movie with no punches pulled, it really grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until it’s finished… I loved it! More of my thoughts later, after this brief summary (summary haters, and those that don’t wish to know about the plot, please track down that guy taking pot-shots at Popeye Doyle while I write the next paragraph).
Two hard-boiled cops, Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle and Det. Buddy Russo are on the narcotics trail. The word on the street is that there’s a big shipment coming in soon, but they don’t know where from. Meanwhile, in France, Alain Charnier, is planning a trip to New York. Doyle and Russo get lucky and lock onto Sal Boca, an ambitious low-life who just happens to have made the connection with some French suppliers. He is watched constantly and even the F.B.I. are brought in on the surveillance. Eventually he makes contact and the cops now have more people to follow… Some of which are very dangerous indeed. Will they be able to stop the deal going through? Well, I’m not going to tell you that here… Doyle says he’s gonna slam my head against a wall if I do.
As I said at the beginning, this film is gritty, no fancy sets, it’s all filmed on location. It all looks, and feels, very real which adds to the excitement of the chase scenes, which are all very well done by the way. I can see why it won so many awards, there’s something very compelling about it that’s hard to define. None of the characters are particularly likable, but that doesn’t matter, what matters is getting those bad guys.
Very much an Oscar-worthy performance from Gene Hackman as Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle, ably supported by Roy Scheider as Det. Buddy Russo. Also worthy of note was Fernando Rey as Alain Charnier. Add to this some great stunts, a decent soundtrack and one of the iconic chase sequences (if you’ve seen it you’ll know the one I mean). I really enjoyed this one, not just for it’s gritty realism, but also because it’s a very well made film… Highly recommended.
My Score: 8.7/10
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0067116/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/french_connection/