The French Connection

(The French Connection)
William Friedkin / USA, 1971
English & French version / Czech subtitles, 104 min

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The mere name of this, one of the grittiest films of the early 1970s, immediately brings to mind the most glorified car chase in the history of cinematography and the outstanding Gene Hackman as the aggressive New York cop Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. This realistic, high-energy crime film, which influenced the modern interpretation of the action thriller, was based on a true story that happened in 1962. Using the unscrupulous methods for which narcotics detectives are renowned, Popeye and his partner Buddy Russo (the recently deceased Roy Scheider) pick up the trail of a big-time heroin shipment from France organised by the Marseilles dealer Alain Charnier. Friedkin builds a plot line for a police raid using virtually no dialogue and a semi-documentary style with emphasis on the authenticity of details. Through the frequent use of hand-held cameras, we accompany the do-or-die men with their own idea of the law into dirty Brooklyn niches and the cold corners of Manhattan’s vast city streets. In his legendary film - which generated 50 million dollars for sceptical Fox studios - Friedkin wittingly ties in to the style of the early films of his European colleague Costa-Gavras, The Sleeping Car Murders and Z.

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