The French Connection is a gritty, in-your-face cop film directed by William Friedkin, who does a bang-up job with this material. It’s smart, effective, and it leads you by the nose the whole way, which few films dared to do. The film is about a narcotics trail being followed by two New York cops looking for where the drugs are coming into the States from. Simple premise, and worked to perfection.
The first thing I noticed was that this film loves cars, boy does it love cars. Almost every shot involves cars in some way, whether they be background, rides for the principals, or the now famous car chase sequence. I know we’re in New York, so traffic is gonna be obvious, but even the static shots are more often than not directly focused on cars so much you could die from alcohol poisoning from the drinking game. The nuts and bolts are fully visible with this one, but it is a properly working machine; it simply chooses not to bother with the protective skin. Great production value, and great art direction, if indeed there was any.
Throughout the film, there are workings of a plot, but the film takes no time to explain anything, it merely presents its information to the audience. I can respect a film that does that, though upon first viewing of the film it admittedly makes it hard to follow, but repeat viewings will hold a lot of weight with this one, I can tell. Both Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider give career best performances, subtle yet nuanced in many creative ways; Hackman’s Doyle in particular is delightfully short-fused, and it’s always a pleasure to see where he directs his finely controlled attitude.
This film is so well put together that it is nothing but impressive to watch. This is definitely one to add to your lists as a must see, not just for the car chase, but as a great film in its own right.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10