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Customer Review

88 of 99 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "The Tuminaro Case", August 15, 2003
This review is from: The French Connection (Five Star Collection) (DVD)
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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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 6, 2011 12:54:08 PM PDT
John Nava says:
I't been a while since I read it, but wasn't the movie based on the case described in the book of the same title by Robin Moore, which took place in 1963? Or is 1968 a typo?

Posted on Jan 9, 2013 3:01:04 PM PST
John says:
Miles Watson, As a former NYCP Detective working in Narcotics during the days of the SIU and Bob Leuici I have to tell you that you hit the truth pretty much on the head. You did though forgot to mention Serpico who was also in Narco at the time also, but he truly knew nothing, he was out for headlines. Thanks for an interesting review.

Posted on Aug 8, 2013 1:42:32 PM PDT
Very well put. I watched the movie for the first time. In the end it didn't feel much like a happy ending. I'm actually glad that it wasn't made to imply that. And I think that this so-called war on drugs is futile. And comparing this to the Seven-Ups, The French Connection is definitely a much better movie. I liked the chase and shoot out from Seven Ups, but TFC is a much better darker story.
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