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The French Connection

The French Connection

A pair of NYC cops stumbles upon a huge drug deal that's being arranged in the city. This movie follows how they pursued these smugglers.

This is one of the defining movies of 1970s. Its culturally and aesthetically significant in its representation and portrayal of that time period. If anyone in the current time want to see how NY was in 60s and 70s , all they need to do is watch this movie. The mean streets of New York are never captured better. Its a police procedural with most of the movie about tailing. It feels so gritty and realistic. The movie stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider as two cops. One of them is inherently bad cop and aggressive one. The other is good cop and less aggressive. Gene Hackman's performance captures a cop who is a natural. He is born to be a cop. The way he is addicted to his job is pretty intense. The movie shows what it takes to be a cop at that time in NY. You can't be idealistic when you are dealing with criminals and crooks and lot of shady characters.

The plot revolves around a shady French entrepreneur. The movie star with a French cop following this guy. Eventually the right hand henchman of the french man kills this cop. Back in Brooklyn, Popeye Doyle(Hackman) and Roy Scheider are doing their job busting bars predominantly in African american neighborhoods. But all they could get is the end product in the hands of consumers. Popeye always wants to get to the source but as a street cop he never gets the chance. During a night out which turns into an investigation they stumble upon a huge drug deal about to happen in future. What happens next is a game of cat and mouse through to the end.

The movie has lot of antagonists. All of whom are very shady and secretive. The best thing about the movie is its always on. The movie begins with the villain. So we know antagonist before protagonist and know that there is a looming problem in our hands.The plot moves fast. The movie merges Popeye's life with his job. He is so obsessed that where ever he goes he sees job first. That is very evident in their first night out. He goes to a bar with Scheider as a relaxation. But in Popeye's mind he is there to look up people and see if anyone is shady. That's when they stumble upon one of the main contacts of our French man. The relentlessness of police pursuit is captured so well. Most of criminals who commit a crime consciously with a plan often times think that they can get away with it. But in reality they can't because police has lot of dormant resources that spring into action once a crime is committed. This movie shows what kind of people are behind that force. Its people like Popeye who are 24/7 on the look out for someone who breaks law. Its not a job for anyone. Only few people can do the job. The cover of the guy and deduction by Popeye is brilliant. He is a small restaurant owner who happens to own 2 cars and switch between them. For some reason a lot of people are surrounding him and falling over him at the bar. That's when our protagonist deduces there is something wrong with him.

The techniques used by smugglers to smuggle in drugs into the country and the people involved are very clever and odd that no one would bother checking them. The French man is based on a real guy and his fate in the movie is very ambiguous. His characteristic and personality displayed in the movie sort of forecasts his fate in the movie. He is the brain behind the operation and is the only one who is much smarter and has outdone Popeye on one occasion. There is a scene when tailing the french man where in they go into a restaurant and Hackman has to keep an eye on them that is a love letter to law enforcement in a weird way. It shows the contrast between good and bad people in the society and how they are treated. The good cop is outside freezing and eating Brooklyn style pizza. Where as the criminal french man is inside eating a very large and delicious meal. The contrast in the scene must have a metaphoric meaning. The infamous train chase scene in the movie is a memorable piece of cinema. The danger in it makes it much more thrilling.

When I realized William Friedkin directed this movie I was looking for his signature and its all over the movie. There is sense of doom , gloom, despair and quite frankly "its all for nothing" feel to the movie. The end credits show that most of the people involved got out in less than 5 yrs. Which is a very sad note to end a movie on. The music choice in the end of the movie is the very indication of William Friedkin style. If you watched french connection and exorcist you can tell both were directed by the same guy. Its a new Hollywood movie. At this time you can still see traces of old Hollywood through some of the nominees that year and the win of a classic old Hollywood movie the sting a few years later. So the movie is a classic.