FILM REVIEW :
"The French Connection" is William Friedkin's masterpiece & winner of 5 Academy Awards in 1971, including Best Picture, Best Director & Best Actor for Gene Hackman. This gritty police drama based on real life incidents is the film that put Gene Hackman on the map & established him as an A-list superstar. Hackman plays Popeye Doyle a fiery, short-tempered, aggressive but nevertheless dedicated New York detective. Doyle & his partner Buddy Russo (Roy Schneider) are hoping to uncover a huge heroin shipment coming from France. Fernando Ray plays suave businessman & French gentleman Alain Charnier, the mastermind behind the largest heroin supply to New York City.
Shot in real locations on real New York City streets, the surveillance sequences in the early part of the film are gripping & possibly the best put on screen. You are made to feel like you are there, on the stakeout with the two detectives. "The French Connection" features one of the best chase sequences ever put on celluloid. It is unique in that it is not between two cars (as was the case in "Bullitt") but it is a chase between a car & a train. It has been reported that Hackman did most of the driving himself & real civilian cars were on the streets at the time of shooting. It is interesting to note that real-life policemen, Eddie Egan & Sonny Grosso on which Hackman & Schneider's characters are based have small roles in the film. Egan & Grosso were also used as technical advisors to ensure absolute authenticity in the production. "The French Connection" is a fascinating & powerful film, fast, gripping, gritty & extremely entertaining.