The French Connection Cover The two word's, 'French' and 'Crime', don't seem to fit together very well, do they? With 'French': you can't help but envision some onion-wearing pansy who walks along the promenade with gay abandon. And as for 'Crime' on the other hand: one word, and one word only... BANG! As seen in the following 104 minute movie made in 1971. It was Directed by William Friedkin; and Starred: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, with Fernando Rey.

The French Connection : The Film - The Book

Hey, Cloudy (Roy Scheider)! Do you see that slime-ball sitting over there with those other gooks? Yeah. That's him. Sal Boca (Tony Lo Bianco). Well, just between the two of us, my friend, I have a hunch he's up to something no good. And I mean really no good.

So I tell you what. Because we're both detective's in the NYPD, why don't we trail that mother f*cker, day in, day out, and try to see what the f*ck he's up to. 

Yeah-Yeah-Yeah! I know our boss Simonson's (Eddie Egan) wouldn't want us to get involved because of my previous track record. But screw him! He likes you, doesn't he? Plus I'm sure once we finally find something to pin on this creep, sooner or later he'll come around to my way of thinking.

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires kicks off a couple of weeks later, when Cloudy looks over at me and say's, 'Hey Popeye (Gene Hackman)? Who the f*ck is that Frog called Charnier (Fernando Rey)? And why the hell is he calling Sal up on the phone?'. As the weather turns cold - a couple of cops turn bold - a stolen car get's sold - and at the end of the day... no... wait a minute!

Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?

Now this is what I would call seventies crime drama at its best. It's moody. OHHH! It’s gritty. GRRRR! And it even shows a bit of titty. BOING! Yes, my friends. In my most humble opinion this is what 'The 'French Connection' means to me.

The French Connection Vintage 1971 Film Poster
OK. I must admit. I am biased because I'm a right sucker for this type of film. To begin with it's a true film, and stars one of my all time favorite actors, Gene Hackman. And although the title may sound like a perfume by L'Oreal,  in actuality, it's a solid piece of storytelling which is lived in and not performed.

Well, you have to remember that back in the day when this piece was first released, hardly anyone knew anything about Roy Scheider or Gene Hackman (probably don’t now for that matter). So when these two freshly faced actors first cast the screen ablaze with their portrayals of Popeye (not the cartoon) and Cloudy (not the weather based smog) -- boy-oh-boy -- the after-effects of this dynamic new occurrence can still be felt to this very day.

I mean, take it's infamous car chase scene for example. You can seldom watch a movie made nowadays which hasn't tried to emulate a like-minded high octane pursuit between two opposing parties. Heck, even Spiderman 2 paid homage to it.

What's more, I best mention that its overall tone is another landmark standard. As a matter of fact, I'm certain you yourself can name quite a few cop based dramas which have attempted to reach a similar urban tone. Giving their respective productions a predatorial, understated presence, which works off of a gritty yet real life premise.

But on a more personal note, film fans, what I loved about this movie the most relied heavily on four key factors. Firstly, most of the actors in it were great to watch -- especially Gene and Roy -- because they were able to give their respective roles some depth of realism. Secondly, conceptually the tale is based on a real event -- about a bunch of cops who try to stop drugs coming into the country -- thus portrayed in that seventies style which is both earthy and evolving at the same time. Thirdly, I thought the chase sequences elevated it's wider-ranging pretext to such a degree, they actually added a suspenseful value to the plot. And fourthly -- Wow -- the music! What can I say about that which hasn't been said before? Just like those chase scenes I previously mentioned, the rhapsodic melodies heard throughout actually added a captivating value to the general ambiance.

The French Connection Starring Roy Schnieder and Gene Hackman

The French Connection Starring Eddie Egan
What? You think this is a bit too much? Then you best check out the following filmic-facts for more information about this classic slice of cinema. (1) '20th Century Fox' first screened this $1.8 million dollar production in New York, New York, on the 7th of October, 1971, and eventually clawed back $51.7 million dollars at the box office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Rough Male' in Sweden; 'The Force Of The Law' in Turkey; and 'Focal Point New York' in Norway. (3) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout numerous parts of New York, France, and the District of Columbia. In New York you might notice the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station, Randall's Island, the Roosevelt Hotel, plus select areas of Ridgewood, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. In the District of Columbia you might notice Washington. And in France you might notice Bouches-du-Rhône. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'There are no rules and no holds barred when Popeye cuts loose!'. (5) During pre-production James Caan, Robert Mitchum, Jimmy Breslin, Jackie Gleason, Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, and Peter Boyle, all turned down the role of Popeye in this flick. And believe it or not, Fernando Rey was cast by mistake, because the original actor for this role was meant to be someone else -- Francisco Rabal. (6) The car crash seen in this thriller was unscripted and unplanned, and was only left in for realism. By chance the poor chap involved just backed his car out of the driveway when the collision occurred. Also, some of the other 'car stunts' shot were 'unplanned' as well. Such as the chase in general, and the traffic jam sequence. (7) Two of the real detectives that were involved with the real case, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, starred in this film, as well as assisted Roy Scheider and Gene Hackman with their respective roles. In one incident before filming, Gene had to grab a suspect from the streets, and was later concerned that he could be sued for impersonating a police officer. (8) Troy Kennedy-Martin, who was the writer that adapted the original story into a novel based form, also wrote the screenplay for the 1969 Michael Caine classic, 'The Italian Job'. (9) If you look very closely at the end credits, you can clearly see the World Trade Center being built in the background. (10) Apart from Eddie and Sonny, there were also a lot of other 'real life' people cast to star in this adventure. The conductor on the train was an actual train conductor, because the actor who was supposed to fill this role never showed up. The extras in the first bar scene were real police officers. And Irving the mechanic was the actual mechanic on the real life case. (11) The famous phrase, 'Did you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?', is based on a 'good cop / bad cop' interrogation technique used by Doyle and Russo while they were in the force. (12) After they helped out with this drama, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso retired from the NYPD, and for a short while started to work in the film industry.

The French Connection Starring Fernando Rey

Ops! I went slightly top heavy there with my trivia splurge, didn't I? Still. I suppose this is just another way of showing you how much I loved watching 'The French Connection'. Not a perfume by L'Oreal. But a true life classic seventies crime drama brought to the silver screen. Don't you agree, youtube clip?

Amazing film. Nuff said.