The French Connection

release year: 1971
genre: drama/action
viewing setting: home DVD, 1/23/06

synopsis: Two tough New York detectives try to bust a big drug deal involving a Frenchman.

impressions: I hate to say a movie is "dated" since all that really means is that it was made in a previous era when people talked and acted differently, technology wasn't the same, etc etc. It's basically an excuse for a reviewer who doesn't understand the context of a movie because it was made before the reviewer's time. Still, this felt like a primitive version of Heat, which is also highly-regarded as a crime drama. I just don't understand how this movie won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Actor in 1972. Don't get me wrong - I love movies like this, and I think Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider are great actors. But many other crime dramas have a deeper plot, more action, and far more lines/development of the main characters, yet they didn't get nominated for all these awards. Example: Roy Scheider really doesn't say much aside from agreeing with Hackman's character, and the movie reveals nothing about Scheider's personality aside from how he backs his partner and gets tired during stakeouts. How is that a performance worthy of a Best Supporting Actor nomination? Hell, he gave a much more powerful performance in Jaws or 2010 but got no accolades for that. It's just not right. Final note: the ending was a bit of a letdown, at least for me.

things to watch for: the big car/rail chase at around 1:10

something this movie has that no other movie has: A round-trip flight from NYC to DC for $54 (Eastern Airlines, circa 1971)

acting: Gene Hackman is good as a tough, prejudiced cop who can't admit when he's made mistakes. Roy Scheider is good as his partner, but could have done so much more with a more deeply-written character. Fernando Rey is the French drug smuggler who constantly outwits them both.

final word: Good crime drama, worth seeing, but I don't consider it to be one of the all-time classics.

back to the main review page