I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The French Connection, 1971

Rated R

This film is about the real-life story of two undercover narcotics officers who made the biggest drug bust in history in New York in 1962. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (played by Gene Hackman) works alongside Buddy "Cloudy" Russo (played Roy Scheider), but it is he who becomes passionate about cracking this case and proving he IS on to something. To be completely honest, during the first half hour or so of the movie, I couldn’t decide if I thought Doyle was a good cop or not (“good” meaning “not crooked” AND “good at his job”). The movie was actually adapted from a book about the real life cops (with different names) and those two men had minor cameos and served as technical directors for the film.

Doyle discovers some sketchy individuals who he learns are involved in an impending drug exchange. It leads to his obsessive stalking and researching. He learns the other exchangers are from France who traveled to New York to do business (in film). Doyle finally tracks down the car they’re using and he orders it to be stripped because he knows its “dirty”. I have never seen a car completely dismantled like that before. It was pretty amazing to see all these men ripping apart a car down to its frame in order to find the hidden drugs. Which leads me to something that confused me… In the next scene, we see the car completely put back together so that “the bad guys” can have it back to make their exchange (where the cops will bust them later). I’m not convinced that the car could’ve been put back together in such a pristine way that it wouldn’t tip the bad guys off. What happened? Bad editing? Did it really happen that way in the real-life story?

The film literally ends with a bang… and we don’t know who is hit. Subtitles appear and state what happened to each character in real life. It doesn’t clear up the last gunshot but it lets us know what did (or did not) happen to the officers and the bad guys. I’ll just say, it may not be safe to travel to France just yet… ;)

It’s not a movie I would see again though… for me, it was a little boring and uneventful, at least up until the last twenty minutes. There’s a fabulous chase scene at the end as Doyle is trying to catch one of the bad guys. He barrels around the streets of New York under the elevated train as he tries to catch up with the guy that’s on board. It looked pretty dangerous and it was shot well, but it has nothing on the Bourne trilogy’s chase scenes. J

Some of the dialogue was lost on me and I don’t know if that was a 60’s thing, a cop thing, or a NY thing. The Props/Make-Up department had THE WORST fake blood I’ve ever seen in a film. Some gunshot wounds were almost comical. I know, that’s a horrible thing to say, but honestly, that’s what kept me from being grossed out during some unsettling scenes.

This film won against “The Clockwork Orange”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “The Last Picture Show”, and “Nicholas and Alexandra”. I’ve only seen “Fiddler” and even though I LOVE the music in that play/film, I was honestly a little bored during that movie too. In addition to Best Picture, “The French Connection” also won Best Director, Best Actor (Hackman’s first Oscar), Best Screenplay Adaptation, and Best Editing (which I think it deserved).


Trying to remain undercover and inconspicuous, Doyle trails one of the bad guys to the subway. The guy knows he’s being followed and has fun with him by getting on and off before the train leaves. For example, he gets out again to throw away a tissue and Doyle must find a reason to exit the train too. I was nervous for Doyle getting caught inside or out but I was also smiling because it was a cute game of cat and mouse.

The chase scene was another scene I got nervous watching… especially here when he had to swerve to keep from hitting that lady and her baby pram.


Follow your gut. Just make sure you’re right.

There are lots of good hiding places in cars that I never thought of … but the police (and car mechanics) would find whatever it is anyway.

It’s probably safer to take cabs when in New York City.


  1. where were the drugs specifically hidden in the car?

  2. I won't say and ruin it for my other readers who may want to see the film! ;)