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003797Reviews & Counting
French Connection
BLU-RAY disk
03.16.2009 By: Sturdy
French Connection order
William Friedkin

Gene Hackman
Fernando Rey
Roy Scheider


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Two detectives begin a long investigation into a suspicious character that leads them on an international narcotics case. But their investigation gets tougher and more dangerous as they discover it leads to one of the top criminal bosses in France.
Iíve always said that reviewing classic films is extremely hard. Youíre almost forced to write a positive review. After all, if every critic before you thought the film was great, then who the hell are you to say otherwise? In the case of the FRENCH CONNECTION, I have to give it a CITIZEN KANE-type review in that I definitely appreciate the film techniques and the genre-busting grandness of the film, but at the end of the day I canít say it entertained me.

One problem I have with the film is how Doyle and Russo came to be on the case in the first place. In real life, the FBI asked them to look into it, but in the film, theyíre just out at a night club and see someone suspicious. Yes, I know that really happened, but that wasnít the catalyst for the entire case. The other thing I didnít like was the wrap up at the end of the film. Not only was there a sequel, but we didnít need a run down of what happened to everyone after the last scene. I thought it belittled the film a little bit and wasnít necessary.

But at the end of the day, this is the FRENCH CONNECTION. Doyle is a great character played to perfection by Gene Hackman. I donít think Hackman gets enough credit for how great he is, but this is one of his better performances as he really gives a lot of depth to the character. Without Hackmanís Doyle, this would have been another run of the mill detective story. Friedkin also does a wonderful job, not only with the chase scene, but in showing the dedication and gradual obsession Doyle has with breaking the case.

We donít get a lot of films like this today, and thatís because todayís filmmakers are more concerned with throwing cars off of semiís than they are with showing a real life, gritty detective story. But in their defense, todayís audiences donít have the patience to watch a detective stand in the cold for ten minutes while he waits for a suspect to come out of a restaurant.
Commentary with William Friedkin: Say what you want about Friedkin, but he is incredibly passionate about the film, as evidenced with him showing up for almost every single special feature. He gives a great commentary here, but sometimes it seemed like he was reading from a script. But he gives more than enough information to make this a worthwhile listen.

Commentary with Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider: This is actually more of a long interview because you can tell that Hackman is receiving questions off camera. However, that doesnít change the fact that Hackman is really great and gives you all the information you want. He doesnít hold back, which makes this a great listen. I didnít hear too much from Scheider, so Iím not sure they were in the same room. That probably explains why we get some loooonnnngggg moments of silence.

Deleted Scenes (11:37): These are character driven scenes that donít do much for the overall story, but definitely impact the characters. One involved the head henchman and a dominatrix, which was extremely out of place. Another had Gene Hackman riding a bicycle backwards, which was pretty impressive.

Anatomy of a Chase (20:20): Friedkin shows up to discuss the famous chase scene in the film. He goes into some great details about everything from how they filmed the chase to why they chose the scenes. It was okay, but I would have liked more discussion about the film and less description of what happened.

Hackman on Doyle (10:49): In what looks like a recent interview, Hackman shows up to discuss the film and his character. Hackman is great to listen to, but this overlaps the commentary a little bit, but I enjoyed this more. I was surprised at how much Hackman opened up about his struggles with the film.

Friedkin and Grosso Remember the Real French Connection (19:12): I didnít know anything about the real life story this was based on, but Friedkin sits down with one of the detectives that was assigned to the case. In interview style, Grosso talks about the real life case and what happened with it. For what itís worth, Grosso would have been Scheiderís character. This was pretty cool and a must-see for all fans of the film.

Scene of the Crime (5:14): All of these scenes that have Friedkin walking us through the scenes of the film should have been combined in one long featurette. This one, like the ones before, has Friedkin talking with some real life detectives of the time. Again, itís interesting, but more reserved for big fans of the film.

Color Timing The French Connection (13:15): Once again, Friedkin shows up to walk us through the Blu-ray conversion of the film. Maybe Iím a geekÖokay, Iím definitely a geek, but I really liked this featurette. I also think itís really cool that Friedkin took so much interest in getting the Blu-ray transfer right.

Cop Jazz: The Music of Don Ellis (10:04): Dare I say it, but I wasnít the biggest fan of the music of the film. But this featurette focuses on Don Ellis and his music. Itís a little technical, music-wise, but it was interesting since I donít know anything about music.

Rogue Cop: The Noir Connection (13:47): This has a lot of interview with film historians and they talk a lot about the impact classic noir had on the FRENCH CONNECTION. I like the comparisons with older films and exploring the differences between them. It made me appreciate the film a little more.

BBC Documentary: The Poughkeepsie Shuffle (53:38): Iím not sure why the BBC got involved with making an hour long documentary about the real French Connection, but they did and it was pretty decent. Again, we have a lot of overlap from the previous features, but it was good from a historical standpoint.

Making the Connection: The Untold Stories of The French Connection (56:33): The Fox Movie Channel shows up to do their take on the making of the film. By the time I got to this, I knew all there was to know about the film. They focus mainly on Grosso and his story. Itís good, but I actually preferred the BBC documentary.

There are some Previews and a Trivia Track
The FRENCH CONNECTION is a classic film that everyone should see. I respect it as a film and for what it accomplished, but itís not a film I can watch over and over. So if youíre new to the FRENCH CONNECTION, you might want to give it a rental first.
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