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154 of 162 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Updated: Bizarre visual overhaul sinks 2009 Blu-Ray release, but 2012 Filmmakers Signature Series Blu-Ray gets it (mostly) right
(NOTE: For updated info on the new 2012 blu-ray release, check out the second half of this review below)

"The French Connection" is a fantastic time capsule of a film; a solid crime drama enhanced tremendously by great performances, crackling dialogue, terrific stunt work and wonderful location shooting in and around NYC that captures The Big Apple during its...
Published on March 17, 2009 by Hugo D. Hackenbush

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ..."Too" Real For Blu Ray...
I'm afraid I have to agree with other reviewers of this Blu Ray version of William Friedkin's masterpiece. It looks awful a large part of the time, which completely ruins the other times when it shines.

Ironically, the problem lies in the film's strength - its gritty portrayal of New York and the drug culture taking a grip of it in the early Seventies. The...
Published on March 26, 2009 by Mark Barry


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154 of 162 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Updated: Bizarre visual overhaul sinks 2009 Blu-Ray release, but 2012 Filmmakers Signature Series Blu-Ray gets it (mostly) right, March 17, 2009
By 
(NOTE: For updated info on the new 2012 blu-ray release, check out the second half of this review below)

"The French Connection" is a fantastic time capsule of a film; a solid crime drama enhanced tremendously by great performances, crackling dialogue, terrific stunt work and wonderful location shooting in and around NYC that captures The Big Apple during its 1970's heyday as a scummy, gritty cesspool of a town. It's a fine example of 1970's American cinema, a classic of its type and a must-see, if not a must-own, for fans of crime dramas and police procedurals. Without question, a five star film (out of five).

Regarding specifically the 2009 2-disc blu-ray release, Director William Friedkin has apparently decided that the gritty, documentary-like feel to the original cinematography of his film was not gritty and documentary-like enough; instead of taking advantage of the latest technological advances to clean up or restore an original master of this classic film, director Friedkin decided that he would revisit his 39-year-old masterpiece so as to make it look decidedly worse. Using various digital filters, he has amped up the noise and graininess, distorted and smeared the color scheme with a bizarre "pastel" look, and blown out the contrast, all to give "The French Connection" an (intentionally) worn-out, distorted look that really does change the visuals of the film.

Unfortunately, rather than giving the film a more "cinéma vérité" feel (as was the director's intention), this inexplicable digital makeover adds absolutely nothing to the film's impact save for scads of fake film grain, alternately faded and dull hues and crappier contrast. I am by no means a film purist, but the fact is this visual overhaul is pointless, gimmicky and (most problematic) extremely distracting. The added grain will astonish you during certain parts of the film... and not in a good way. People with large televisions especially be warned.

"The French Connection" was originally shot by legendary film cinematographer Owen Roizman (whose cinematography resume includes such film greats like "Network", "The Taking of Pelham 123" and "The Exorcist"). The following comment is what Mr. Roizman had to say on the matter of the film's "new" look after viewing it:

"Billy (director William Friedkin) for some reason decided to do this on his own. I wasn't consulted. I was appalled by it. I don't know what Billy (director William Friedkin) was thinking. It's not the film that I shot, and I certainly want to wash my hands of having had anything to do with this transfer, which I feel is atrocious."

I sympathize with you, Mr. Roizman.

As a side note, I personally think this trend of technologically "fixing" older films is crap, directors cut or no director's cut. Imagine if Stanley Kubrick revisited Dr. Strangelove in order to add improved nuclear missile effects via CGI; or if Kubrick digitally altered "2001: A Space Odyssey" in order to digitally "improve" Dr. David Bowman's trip through time and space; or if Martin Scorsese added new CGI blood effects to "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver"? What if an elderly Picasso had decided to round up his earlier cubist paintings and touch them up, in order to "correct" the technical imperfections of his youth? Where does it end?

Perhaps Mr. Friedkin's decision to experiment with the film's original cinematography wouldn't be much of an issue if the original version of the film was included alongside the digitally-altered version, but alas, that is not the case with this blu-ray release. Unfortunately, Mr. Friedkin has stated that this new, digitally-altered version of "The French Connection" is how he hopes this classic film will be presented in all future home video releases from here on end (we'll see about that). My belief is that if this trend must continue, then I do think that there is an obligation for the original, unaltered film to be available to the public as well, for reasons of both history and personal aesthetics.

Admittedly, the special features of the Blu-Ray release are impressive (although most are recycled from the earlier 5-Star Collection DVD), but when the main film is presented as such, what does it matter? I infinitely prefer the 2001 Five-Star Collection 2-disc DVD set, and wholeheartedly recommend it over this Blu-Ray. The remastering on the THX-approved 2001 DVD is terrific (looking especially good upconverted via 1080p), the original cinematography is preserved, the 5.1 Dolby Digital sounds great, and its got hours of extras (as mentioned earlier, its got virtually all of the extras found on the Blu-Ray incarnation). As another alternative, if you can live without most of the extras, the 2005 single-disc DVD release has the same mastering as the 2001 Five-Star Collection 2-disc DVD set, is currently still in circulation, and can be bought brand new for around $7.00.

In all, the 2009 Blu-Ray release is a two-star (**) affair at best; if you must check out this Blu-Ray, rent before you buy.

Perhaps its time for Mr. Friedkin to make a new film rather than waste time tinkering on his old ones (or, judging by his last film "Bug", maybe not).

8/8/12 UPDATE: Predictably, 20th Century Fox went back to the drawing board and whipped up a new transfer for an all-new blu-ray release that was originally a Best Buy exclusive, but is finally available for purchase on Amazon.com. It is being hailed as a director-approved cut (just as the last blu-ray release was), but this time it was remastered under both Freidkin and Roizman's supervision (who have apparently made up with each other since the last Blu-Ray release).

So, how does this blu-ray stack up with the earlier release? Overall, this new transfer is mostly terrific, and completely blows the old blu-ray release out of the water. Colors look natural again (if a little over-saturated at times). Contrast is great, although blacks can be a bit crushing at times. The fake grain and noise is gone, replaced with look of natural film grain, befitting a film made in 1971. Sharpness is improved. Overall, a huge upgrade in video from the 2009 release. As far as audio is concerned, it is the same as the earlier disc, which is a good thing, as that was the best thing about the 2009 A/V presentation.

There are a couple caveats, however. First, the film has been given a blue/teal tint that is fairly noticeable in some scenes, but not in all. While this has bothered some critics, when I compared this disc to the Five-Star DVD release, it really isn't as bad as some have made it out to be, and is nowhere near as distracting as other teal-ified blu-ray releases, such as "Aliens" or the 2012 blu-ray release of "Total Recall". In fact, the Five Star 2-disc DVD set (which still looks great, I must say) exhibits a fairly blue color scheme for much of the film, although it is not as pronounced as the "Signature Series" blu-ray release. Why they won't simply release the film as it looked in theaters, with its original color timing, is beyond me.

Second, there are less extras on this disc, the most egregious omission being the removal of the excellent one-hour BBC documentary "Poughkeepsie Shuffle", so as to consolidate the film and remaining extras on to one Blu-Ray disc. It is a great documentary that is totally worth owning for fans, and is a real shame that it's been left behind. Fans will want to hang onto their old 2-disc Blu-Ray or Five Star 2-disc DVD set for that neat extra. Fortunately, the "Signature Series" blu-ray release does retain many of the great extras found on the earlier releases, and overall should satisfy most fans.

Final Note: For super-fans, none of the blu-ray releases come with the original theatrical trailer for The French Connection (although The French Connection II blu-ray release did include its original theatrical trailer...go figure); however, the Five Star DVD set does indeed include the theatrical trailer.

So there you have it, folks. The new blu-ray release, while not perfect, is totally worth the upgrade for the improved picture quality, and is a four-star (****) release.
For casual fans, the 2012 "Signature Series" blu-ray release is far and away the preferred release to own. In the end, it is hardcore fans who get the shortest end of the stick (as per usual); if one wishes to have the most complete "French Collection" experience, one must invest in both blu-ray sets and the Five Star DVD. Adieu, friends!
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Tuminaro Case", August 15, 2003
The Tuminaro Case. That is what the law enforcement community calls "the French Connection" case of 1968. Two rough-and-tumble NYPD Narcotics detectives named Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso stumbled on a heroin-smuggling ring which spanned the Atlantic and linked the New York Mafia with a French mob operating out of Marsailles, which, if you are not familiar with it, is a great port city in the Mediterranean famous for, among other things, being a stop on the great heroin pipeline between Turkey, Siciily, Corsica, Continental Europe, and the Big Apple. This discovery was the birth of the understanding that the heroin trade was big international business, being conducted on a breathtaking scale, and the efforts of local cops and a few federal agents to stop it by busting junkies and street dealers was as ludicrous as handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500.
In the end, somewhere between 100 - 300 kilos of pure heroin were seized, the ring was smashed, two cops sprung to fame by making the big case ("Went through The Door", in NYPD Narc lexicon), and the soon-to-be legendary NYPD Special Investigations Unit was created. But at what cost, and to what end?
This is what the film version of "The French Connection" examines, changing the names of the players (to Popeye Doyle, played by the great Gene Hackman, and Cloudy Russo, played by the criminally underrated Roy Schieder, respectively) but leaving the basic facts of the story intact. Very few movies have attempted to show the methodology and mind-set of Narc detectives without either glamorizing them or apologizing for them; "TFC" does neither. Doyle is a truly disgusting human being, but a [darn] good cop. He has the ego, the spleen, the recklessness, and the obsessive won't-let-go mentality of a pit bull, which more or less typefied the Narcs of the pre-Knapp Comission years. If you want a cop like Doyle off your case, you pretty much have to kill him. And if you try, don't miss.
The SIU, an elite branch of the Narcotics Division, was born during this investigation. No police unit in history probably bagged more hard drugs, busted more big-name dealers, or wrought such havoc with the drug trade in the Big Apple. On the other hand, no police unit in history ever broke so many laws doing it:
the tactics used by Doyle and Russo in "TFC" became standard procedure for the SIU: Illegal wiretaps. Shakedowns. Theft of money. Distribution of heroin to informants. Perjury. Extortion. Entrapment. You name it, they did it, and operated with virtually no supervision for about ten years before another famous cop, Bob Leuici, who got his own movie ("Prince of the City") brought down the house by exposing its inherent corruption. About seventy detectives served in SUI and of them, more than fifty ended up being indicted, and most went to prison. A number killed themselves. In a moment of true irony, several SIU detectives were fingered in the theft of 300 pounds of heroin from the police evidence lockup. The heroin in question was the evidence seized by Egan and Grosso in the Tuminaro Case. So in the end, it was largely for nothing. The H hit the street anyway.
I read some review of this film which question its morality, its supposed affirmantion of the 'war on drugs' and even liken "Connection" to the Nazi propiganda film "Triumph of the Will" because it seems to endorse the ends-justifying-tactics of Doyle and Russo. These people are missing the point entirely. The French Connection is not politicized fiction, like "Blow." It is a real case, the detectives were real people, and these were the real methods they used to crack it. The scene where Hackman chases his would-be assassin all across New York, endangering the lives of about 100 people in the process, says more than any dialogue could about his personality. In other words, this movie isn't about the drug trade, it's about the cops who fight it.

"TFC" is NOT an endorsement of the war on drugs; it simply lays out what happened here in a dramatized fashion. Like all great movies, it does not tell the viewer what to think but allows him/her to come to his own conclusion. And by the way, the movie most certainly DOES imply that the drug war, or at least this particular battle in it, was futile. The 'what happened to them' blurbs at the end of the film demonstrate this in no uncertain terms.
Looking back I see this is not a proper review of the film but more of a rant. ...
I'm through venting. Sorry. I'll make up for it with this: "The French Connection" is a great crime drama, brilliantly acted, superbly directed, and deserves every bit of its reputation as one of the greatest films of all time. I'm going to buy it on DVD today.
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46 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest films ever made, October 27, 2006
This review is from: The French Connection (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (DVD)
Even though there's nothing to say about this now 35-year-old masterpiece that hasn't been said by someone somewhere, I can't resist offering my opinion on the greatest cop movie ever made and, in all likelihood, one of the 10 best films ever made.

How can a film be better than this one? It deservedly won five Oscars including best picture, best actor (Gene Hackman), its script and editing. Film editing is probably the most common downfall of a movie that is the least understood by the average filmgoer. aside from inane scriptwriting, it is editing that either turns individual scenes into something larger that its parts or robs those scenes of their vigor and value by misplacing them in the overall sequence of events.

There are so many good things going on in this film -- the action, ultra-intelligent script based on a real life incident, the acting, the locations, the searing score using knife sharp high strings and bellowing lower strings, and William Friedkin's monumental direction that included the unplanned train chase scene that is now considered the greatest chase in film ("We didn't ask anyone for a permit," Friedkin said. "We just did it.") -- that it is somewhat foolhardy to identify one element as the key to this masterpiece. Still, I believe the editing is what transforms "French Connection" from five stars to masterpiece.

I first saw this movie in 1971 during a matinee at an old big city theatre, now bulldozed, the kind of theatre that used to exist before malls took over the industry. While the chase scene was just as riveting then as now on the big screen, it was an earlier scene that more captivated me.

In the second scene, Hackman and Scheider go to a drinking establishment where a Supremes-like trio is singing. The reality and scope of this scene far more overwhelmed me on the big screen than any other. It also happens to be the scene where the two cops first identify bad guy Tony LoBianco -- who followed his success in this film with a lot of appearances on the 1970s CBS cop show "Kojak" -- as an emerging kingpin throwing around money with some druggie hotshots.

It probably isn't possible to explain to today's moviegoers what a drug kingpin was circa 1971. Drugs are so ingrained in our culture now, with kids regularly taking them to and selling them in school, that the profundity of such a scene in a film can no longer have the same meaning three and one-half decades later.

The final scene, in the decrepit buildings on Riker's Island, is another ultrarealistic scene that puts the viewer at the scene of the crime and the ongoing melodrama. That inconclusive ending was true and commonplace for its period, a time when the "antihero" film was emerging. The popular cop films from the "Dirty Harry" series, as well as Charles Bronson's "Death Wish" films, were clearly influenced by the antihero aspects of the "The French Connection" cops and their futility.

A cast note: Marcel Bozzuffi, the hitman character known as Pierre Nicoli in the film, played a different type of killer two years earlier in the remarkable 1969 French film "Z", a political thriller with much of "The French Connection"'s sizzling energy. And like this film, "Z" was also based on true events. Check this out next time you're in the mood for one of the better films of that era.

Far from being a timepiece, this film is just as contemporary today as it was when it came out -- a time when there was no Internet, cell phones or cable television, there was only one American telephone company and gas cost about 30 cents a gallon. This film will always be among the handful of critics' short A-list movies and I'll continue to watch it at every opportunity. I suggest you take a look if you've never seen it. There will never be another quite like it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 2012 "Signature Series" blu-ray release is finally available on Amazon...for FC fans, this is the blu-ray version to get, September 27, 2012
By 
(NOTE: For updated info on the new 2012 blu-ray release, check out the second half of this review below)

"The French Connection" is a fantastic time capsule of a film; a solid crime drama enhanced tremendously by great performances, terrific stunt work and wonderful location shooting in and around NYC that captures The Big Apple during its 1970's heyday as a scummy, gritty cesspool of a town. It's a fine example of 1970's American cinema, a classic of its type and a must-see, if not a must-own, for fans of crime dramas and police procedurals. Without question, a five star film (out of five).

Regarding specifically the 2009 2-disc blu-ray release, Director William Friedkin has apparently decided that the gritty, documentary-like feel to the original cinematography of his film was not gritty and documentary-like enough; instead of taking advantage of the latest technological advances to clean up or restore an original master of this classic film, director Friedkin decided that he would revisit his 39-year-old masterpiece so as to make it look decidedly worse. Using various digital filters, he has amped up the noise and graininess, distorted and smeared the color scheme with a bizarre "pastel" look, and blown out the contrast, all to give "The French Connection" an (intentionally) worn-out, distorted look that really does change the visuals of the film.

Unfortunately, rather than giving the film a more "cinéma vérité;" feel (as was the director's intention), this inexplicable digital makeover adds absolutely nothing to the film's impact save for scads of fake film grain, alternately faded and dull hues and crappier contrast. I am by no means a film purist, but the fact is this visual overhaul is pointless, gimmicky and (most problematic) extremely distracting. The added grain will astonish you during certain parts of the film... and not in a good way. People with large televisions especially be warned.

"The French Connection" was originally shot by legendary film cinematographer Owen Roizman (whose cinematography resume includes such film greats like "Network", "The Taking of Pelham 123" and "The Exorcist"). The following comment is what Mr. Roizman had to say on the matter of the film's "new" look after viewing it:

"Billy (director William Friedkin) for some reason decided to do this on his own. I wasn't consulted. I was appalled by it. I don't know what Billy (director William Friedkin) was thinking. It's not the film that I shot, and I certainly want to wash my hands of having had anything to do with this transfer, which I feel is atrocious."

I sympathize with you, Mr. Roizman.

As a side note, I personally think this trend of technologically "fixing" older films is crap, directors cut or no director's cut. Imagine if Stanley Kubrick revisited Dr. Strangelove in order to add improved nuclear missile effects via CGI; or if Kubrick digitally altered "2001: A Space Odyssey" in order to digitally "improve" Dr. David Bowman's trip through time and space; or if Martin Scorsese added new CGI blood effects to "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver"? What if an elderly Picasso decided to round up his earlier cubist paintings and touch them up, in order to "correct" the technical imperfections of his youth? Where does it end?

Perhaps Mr. Friedkin's decision to experiment with the film's original cinematography wouldn't be much of an issue if the original version of the film was included alongside the digitally-altered version, but alas, that is not the case with this blu-ray release. Unfortunately, Mr. Friedkin has stated that this new, digitally-altered version of "The French Connection" is how he hopes this classic film will be presented in all future home video releases from here on end (we'll see about that). My belief is that if this trend must continue, then I do think that there is an obligation for the original, unaltered film to be available to the public as well, for reasons of both history and personal aesthetics.

Admittedly, the special features of the Blu-Ray release are impressive (although most are recycled from the earlier 5-Star Collection DVD), but when the main film is presented as such, what does it matter? I infinitely prefer the 2001 Five-Star Collection 2-disc DVD set, and wholeheartedly recommend it over this Blu-Ray. The remastering on the THX-approved 2001 DVD is terrific (looking especially good upconverted via 1080p), the original cinematography is preserved, the 5.1 Dolby Digital sounds great, and its got hours of extras (as mentioned earlier, its got virtually all of the extras found on the Blu-Ray incarnation). As another alternative, if you can live without most of the extras, the 2005 single-disc DVD release has the same mastering as the 2001 Five-Star Collection 2-disc DVD set, is currently still in circulation, and can be bought brand new for around $7.00.

If you must check out this Blu-Ray, rent before you buy.

Perhaps its time for Mr. Friedkin to make a new film rather than waste time tinkering on his old ones (or, judging by his last film "Bug", maybe not).

8/8/12 UPDATE: Predictably, 20th Century Fox went back to the drawing board and whipped up a new transfer for an all-new blu-ray release, initially a Best buy exclusive, it has at last arrived on Amazon. It is being hailed as a director-approved cut (just as the last blu-ray release was), but this time it was remastered under both Freidkin and Roizman's supervision (who have apparently have made up with each other since the last Blu-Ray release).

So, how does this blu-ray stack up with the earlier release? Overall, this new transfer is mostly terrific, and completely blows the old blu-ray release out of the water. Colors look natural again (if a little over-saturated at times). Contrast is great, although blacks can be a bit crushing at times. Grain and noise is present, but far less so than the previous release. Sharpness has been increased. Overall, the film looks great, especially when compared to the last release. As far as audio is concerned, it is the same as the earlier disc.

There are a couple caveats, however. First, the film has been given a blue/teal tint that is fairly noticeable in some scenes, but not in all. While this has bothered some critics, when I compared this disc to the Five-Star DVD release, it really isn't as bad as some have made it out to be, and is nowhere near as distracting as other teal-ified blu-ray releases, such as "Aliens" or the 2012 blu-ray release of "Total Recall". In fact, the Five Star 2-disc DVD set (which still looks great, I must say) exhibits a fairly blue color scheme for much of the film, although it is not as pronounced as the "Signature Series" blu-ray release. Why they won't simply release the film as it looked in theaters, with its original color timing, is beyond me.

Second, there are less extras on this disc, the most egregious omission being the removal of the excellent one-hour BBC documentary "Poughkeepsie Shuffle", so as to consolidate the film and remaining extras on to one Blu-Ray disc. It is a great documentary that is totally worth owning for fans, and is a real shame that it's been left behind. Fans will want to hang onto their old 2-disc Blu-Ray or Five Star 2-disc DVD set for that neat extra. Fortunately, the "Signature Series" blu-ray release does retain many of the great extras found on the earlier releases, and overall should satisfy most fans.

Final Note: For super-fans, none of the blu-ray releases come with the original theatrical trailer for The French Connection (although The French Connection II blu-ray release did include its original theatrical trailer...go figure); however, the Five Star DVD set does indeed include the theatrical trailer.

So there you have it, folks. The new blu-ray release, while not perfect, is totally worth the upgrade for the improved picture quality, and is a four star release. For casual fans, the 2012 "Signature Series" blu-ray release is far and away the preferred release to own. In the end, it is hardcore fans who get the shortest end of the stick (as per usual); if one wishes to have the most complete "French Collection" experience, one must invest in both blu-ray sets and the Five Star DVD. Adieu, friends!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Set a precedent for cop/action movies of the past 28 years, June 29, 1999
By A Customer
Not only is The French Connection the movie that became a model for such films in later years, it still stands out from the rest for its blistering true-to-life screenplay and powerful performances by the leads. Hackman as Doyle is gritty and urgent, exuding bulldog tenacity and robust charm. Scheider is fantastic, his deadpan, streetwise humor the perfect foil to Hackman's hot-under-the-collar performance. Fernando Rey shines as the clever "importer" whose fine wardrobe and luxurious tastes provide a stark contrast to the tired and frustrated cops tailing him. Don't expect the film to compete in action thrills with some of the films made today (except for the much-vaunted car chase scene); do know that it stands head and shoulders above most of them with top-notch writing and top-level acting.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many have tried, but none have successfully duplicated it., July 24, 2001
I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the DVD-release of this terrific film. Anyone who appreciates gritty, police dramas such as Hill Street Blues and NYPD can thank director William Friedkin, who set the standard with this movie. Two years later the same director made the stuffy Academy members start taking the Horror genre seriously with his release of The Exorcist. And Friedkin was way ahead of his time with the 1970 gay- themed The Boys in the Band. The man is quite a trendsetter, not to mention a damn fine director.
Gene Hackman, one of the finest, most versatile actors around, gives the performance of his career as the impulsive, almost maniacal, Popeye Doyle. Hackman's "balls-out" performance earned him the Academy Award for best actor. Incidentally, it is the tenacity of his character which adds to the rush of the famous car/el-train chase. No one is going to take a pop at this guy and just slink away!
And what about the chase-scene? Some, including myself, feel that this is the best one ever on film. Others say it was done better in The Road Warrior; or Bullitt; or Raiders of the Lost Ark; or The Seven-Ups. ( Ronin is mentioned also, but I have never seen it.) These movies all had great chases, but they were shot either in the desert (Road Warrior and Raiders) or largely in the open road (Bullitt and Seven-Ups). In The French Connection, however, the pursuit takes place in a crowded Brooklyn commuter hub. And appropriately so, as the film is all about the grit of the big city. Working within this challenging setting, editor Jerry Greenberg does a tremendous job of maintaining the continuity of a rather lengthy sequence of high-speed events.
There is more that can be said about this great movie, but I'll leave it at this: Unlike a previous reviewer, I have no trouble discerning how this film earned its five Oscars.
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still love that car chase, March 2, 2003
It's getting a tad frayed around the edges, but "The French Connection" has stood up remarkably well over thirty years, thanks largely to a great cast, a great director (William Friedkin) and a crackerjack plot - not to mention the mother of all car chases. Only Gene Hackman could have played Popeye Doyle, a straight-up jerk whose bull-in-the-china-closet operating method rolls over everything in his way, including his own colleagues. Playing his partner admirably well is Roy Scheider as Buddy Russo, whose patience at Doyle's antics sometimes wears as thin as the soles on his shoes. The two of them are narcs, and they are out to intercept the arrival and distribution of a monster shipment of heroin from Marseilles by a drug kingpin named Alan Charnier. The movie zips along as Doyle and Charnier attempt to outwit each other; one of the best sequences in the film is Doyle following Charnier along the streets of midtown Manhattan into the subway (native New Yorkers have fun identifying the path they take) and losing him on the train. Doyle in his own way is as repulsive as the drug dealers he's up against; he's a racist, selfish, insensitive, uncaring about anybody but himself. But his single-minded mania serves him well in this chase; he'll bring down his prey one way or another. The classic scene in this movie is, of course, the car chase under the elevated subway that practically defined the term "car chase"; it's mind-boggling to try to imagine how Friedkin managed to shoot this sequence. The supporting actors in the movie are excellent; I especially liked Tony LoBianco as the middleman Sal Boca, Arlene Farber as his wife Angie, Benny Marino as his brother Lou (does the family that deals together stay together?), Patrick McDermott as the cool-as-ice chemist testing the purity of Charnier's stock and stamping it with his seal of approval; and above all, the sinister performance given by Marcel Bozzuffi as Pierre Nicoli, Charnier's hitman, who will shoot anyone in cold blood without batting an eyelash. The cinematography has a kind of grainy quality that enhances the gritty story being played out. Even though it seems a bit dated, "The French Connection" still stands out as one of the high points of American film.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Film Noir., January 3, 2005
I just saw this one the other day for the second time and was amazed at how riveting it still is. It's also one of the only times that I can think of where a car chase scene rises to the level of art. There is practically nothing in this movie that is black and white. Even after all these years of cultural and social decline, Hackman's final words to Roy Scheider still manage to disturb. I was further surprised at how pertinent the themes are and at the unpredictability of the plot turns. The acting is first rate with the French actors being well chosen.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ..."Too" Real For Blu Ray..., March 26, 2009
I'm afraid I have to agree with other reviewers of this Blu Ray version of William Friedkin's masterpiece. It looks awful a large part of the time, which completely ruins the other times when it shines.

Ironically, the problem lies in the film's strength - its gritty portrayal of New York and the drug culture taking a grip of it in the early Seventies. The Director wanted realism - not just in his actor's performances, but literally how their New York playground looked - so he went for that. Movements are blurry, alleyways are hazy, characters are observed from an out-of-focus distance (aping what Popeye Doyle sees) - everything's grimy and washed out - matching the film's down and dirty feel.

Unfortunately when you get outside of the sunny Marseilles sequences and into the seedy bars and restaurants of the Big Apple - the Blu Ray picture resembles worn out videotape - it's really awful. Which is such a shame, because as you watch it again - but this time on the big screen - you realize what a blindingly fabulous film "The French Connection" is - and how it deserved so much better than this.

In fairness to Fox, the opening credits are squeaky clean - no lines, no scuffs, nothing - no print remains that clean after 38 years, so some restoration has to have been done. Unfortunately when you get to the street action - instead of enhancing the watch - the Blu Ray only makes the deliberately grainy effect look even worse.

Half way through it - I couldn't stand to look at it anymore - I turned it off...

Unless you absolutely must own this, rent it first before wasting your hard-earned on yet another dog on this increasingly frustrating format...

What a disappointment.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Cops Were Cops, Best of the Best, September 16, 2005
By 
H. F. Miglino "bert miglino" (Old Bridge, New jersey United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
One of the best car chase scenes of all time, no special effects. Filmed on 86th Street and New Utrecht Avenue in Brooklyn. Movie from 1971, listen to the dialogue in the movie and see how police described people (not politically correct today) and all their code words. Gene Hackman and Roy Schneider at their best (even though each had much bigger roles latter on in life). Filmed on location in New York City, trains, hotels, police stations, very few hollywood sets if any. Taking the car carrying drugs apart was fantastic. I have a copy of the movie and whenever plays on cable also watch it. How hard work really breaks a case, dectectives had no computers, lasers, cell phones, just their own smarts and very very hard work in breaking a case. Their own street smarts breaks the case, very very exciting movie, how it really happened.
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The French Connection (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)
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