The French Connection Review
The French Connection
Oct 7, 1971
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Car Crash Scene
The car crash during the chase sequence, at the intersection of Stillwell Ave. and 86th St., was unplanned and was included because of its realism. The man whose car was hit had just left his house a few blocks from the intersection to go to work and was unaware that a car chase was being filmed. The producers later paid the bill for the repairs to his car.
An article quoted some of the performers as admitting that they pretty much ignored the dialog in the script and used terms and phrases the police advisers gave to them during rehearsals. Ironically, the screenplay won an Oscar. (Note: Owen Roizman, the film’s cinematographer, maintains that the dialog in the finished film is almost exactly the same as that in the screenplay he read during production).
Car Chase Sequence
The principal car chase scene was widely considered to be the best ever put on film at the time, overtaking Bullitt (1968) for that honor. William Friedkin later attempted to outdo himself with a chase sequence in To Live and Die in L.A. (1985).
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
The final scene of the film generated much praise and discussion for its ambiguity. In a BBC documentary, William Friedkin stated that the ending gunshot “doesn’t mean anything-although it might.”
Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.
Filmed on 86 separate locations throughout New York City.
For the 2009 Blu-ray release, William Friedkin controversially altered the film’s color timing to give it a colder look. The film’s cinematographer Owen Roizman was incensed by this and called the new transfer “atrocious”.
I Don’t Get It………..
I just watched this for the first time. Yes this was a fine film with good acting for 1971 standards.
However, I do not get why this won 5 Oscars for best picture, best director, best actor, etc.
I also loathe the type of cheesy late 1960’s/early 1970’s background music that was in this movie. Other examples of this kind of background music is Dirty Harry, Bullitt, etc.
I am over 40. However, maybe I’m just too new fashioned???
Ymmv, but that soundtrack IMO, fit right in with the story & dark and desperate characters..
the uber talented jazz trumpeter, bandleader and composer wrote the score.
Tell me, what style of music would have worked better? Iyo of course.
Hackman gave one of the grittiest, determind performances ever.
…what more do you want.
I agree you have bad taste in film. Which is alright, not everyone has a discerning eye for it. Cheesy music???? You’re out of your depth. It’s a superb film but I guess it comes up to whether or not you like Clockwork Orange over this for it to be worthy of its oscar. I think it is.
I just watched it and thought it was great: fantastic acting (by any standards) and a thrilling story. However, I do agree with you that this is a bit of a weird Best Picture winner in the history books – on the face of things it’s more like an action thriller – not the sort of thing the Academy would normally go for…
I think people here are maybe seeing the French Connection as a film lover in the 2010’s with probably 100 or more cop movies under your belt, look at this film as if you lived in 1971, it’s very original and influential and not hard to see why it won those oscars at all, the main train/car chase is probably still the best car chase ever despite the limitations compared to competitors, the way the chase is shot is incredible and the whole film just so gritty and real
The whole film is incredible, INCLUDING that awesome 60’s/70’s ambient noise music. I am close to 40 but I don’t see what that has to do with anything. I love gritty (hate that word, though) 70’s cop movies and the atmosphere. I think because that period is so alien to me yet I was a very young kid in the latter part of the era.
Dirty Harry and Bullitt are also awesome movies
The French Connection was not a bad film, but it did not grab me & make me hang on every moment and detail like great movies do.
Still, THE FRENCH CONNECTION is #71 on the AFI all-time great American film list. The fact that it didn’t “grab you” means that either the AFI, the Academy and fans of this film or wrong or you are.
I’m not sure care much about the gritty realism of 70s either but this film has a great feel of place and time. You can almost smell and taste the New York of ’71.
RT/Meta Critic Review
A knockout police thriller with so much jarring excitement that it almost calls for comic-book expletives. POW! ZOWIE! (Click here to see)