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The French Connection

From Academic Kids

This page is about the film. For the infamous drug trafficking scheme alluded to by the movie, see French Connection. For the clothing company, see French Connection (clothing).

Template:Infobox Movie The French Connection is a 1971 Hollywood film directed by William Friedkin which tells the story of two New York City policemen who are trying to intercept a heroin shipment coming in from France, based on the actual, infamous "French Connection" trafficking scheme. It stars Gene Hackman as New York City police detective "Popeye Doyle", Roy Scheider as his partner, Sonny, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco and Eddie Egan, the real-life police detective on whom Hackman's character was based. The film was adapted by Ernest Tidyman from the novel by Robin Moore.

Though the cast ultimately proved to be one of the film's greatest strengths, Friedkin had problems with casting choices from the start. He was strongly opposed to the choice of Hackman for the lead, and actually first considered Jackie Gleason and a New York columnist, Jimmy Breslin, who had never acted before. However, Gleason at the time was considered box office poison by the studio after Gigot had flopped, and Breslin refused to get behind the wheel of a car, which was required of Popeye's character for an integral car chase scene.

The casting of Rey as the main French heroin smuggler, Alain Charnier (irreverently referred to throughout the film as "Frog One"), resulted from mistaken identity. Friedkin had asked his casting director to get a Spanish actor he had seen in the French film, Belle de Jour, who was actually Francisco Rabal, but Friedkin did not know his name. Rey was instead contacted but did not speak a word of French. However, after Rabal was finally reached, they discovered he spoke neither French nor English, and Rey was kept in the film.

The film is often cited as containing one of the greatest car chase sequences in movie history, and car chases, with elaborate stunt work, became de rigueur afterward. The chase involved Popeye securing a civilian's car and then obsessively chasing an out-of-control elevated train, on which a hitman was trying to escape. Many of the shots in the scene were "real", in that Hackman actually drove the car at high speeds through uncontrolled traffic and red lights, with Friedkin running a camera from the backseat while wrapped in a carpet for protection. The production team of course received no prior permission from the city for such a dangerous stunt, and the only precaution taken was to place a "gumdrop" police siren on the car's roof and blare the horn. Other shots involved stunt drivers who were supposed to barely miss hitting the speeding car, but due to errors in timing accidental collisions occurred and were left in the final film. This car chase was parodied in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers.

The movie established the careers of both Friedkin and Hackman, and was instrumental in ushering in an era of neo-realist directors in Hollywood during the early 1970s. It was the first R-rated movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (Midnight Cowboy had won in 1969, but it was X-rated at the time). It also won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role, (Gene Hackman), Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. It was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Roy Scheider), Best Cinematography and Best Sound.

It was followed in 1975 by a less-acclaimed sequel, French Connection II. In 1986, a television movie, Popeye Doyle, appeared.


The French Connection was also the nickname of a line of hockey players for the Buffalo Sabres in the 1970s consisting of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert.

External links

fr:French Connection ja:フレンチ・コネクション sv:French Connection

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