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The French Connection

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The French Connection

Starring: Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey
Director: William Friedkin
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: October 1971
Genres: Action, Drama, Suspense, Classic

*Also starring: Roy Scheider, Tony LoBianco, Eddie Egan, Sonny Grosso, Marcel Bozuffi

Review by Brian Koller
3½ stars out of 4

"The French Connection" is probably the most famous and heavily praised of all buddy-cop films. It is an excellent film with much action and dramatic tension.

Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider play cynical but determined New York City cops out to bust a big heroin ring. Stake-outs and hunches lead to encounters with the criminals, who vary from dangerous assasins to wealthy businessmen to streetwise hoodlums. There is a famous "chase" scene which has Hackman driving a car, recklessly weaving through traffic, following a sniper who has commandeered a train.

"The French Connection" won a mountain of Academy Awards. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Hackman), Best Film Editing, and Best Writing. The Academy must have been impressed by the film's gritty edge and realism, and forgiven its excesses (Hackman engages in violence, threats and racial slurs; He accidentally kills a cop which is given trivial treatment; In one scene his young blonde one-night-stand has handcuffed his leg to a bedpost; There are the usual dramatic arguments between the "rogue" cops and their supervisors).

There are some great moments besides the chase sequence. Hackman tries to follow criminal mastermind Fernando Rey, who plays cat and mouse games to escape. Another great scene has Hackman and Scheider tapping a criminal couple's home phone, and falling over laughing after hearing the wife lay down the law.

The Three Degrees appear as nightclub performers. They are best known for the hit "When Will I See You Again."

Is "The French Connection" the best buddy-cop film ever? Perhaps it doesn't qualify, since Scheider has a lesser part. Maybe "48 HRS. (1982)" is a better movie. But it avoids the pitfalls of later police dramas, which are too heavily cynical or have unrealistic portrayals of the cops and criminals.

Copyright 1999 Brian Koller

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