The French Connection (1 & 2)

Doyle is bad news- but a good cop
Doyle is bad news- but a good cop
D: William Friedkin
20th Century Fox (Philip D'Antoni)
USA 🇺🇸 1971
104 mins
W: Ernest Tidyman [based on the book by Robin Moore]
DP: Owen Roizman
Ed: Jerry Greenberg
Mus: Don Ellis
Gene Hackman (Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle), Fernando Rey (Alain Charnier), Roy Scheider (Buddy Russo), Tony LoBlanco (Sal Boca), Marcel Bozzufi (Pierre Nicol), Frederic de Pasquale (Devereaux), Bill Hickman (Mulderig)
Seminal crime thriller which focuses on gritty realism, putting tough narcotics cop James "Popeye" Doyle on the case to investigate a consignment of drugs entering the country.
William Friedkin sets a template for others to follow with his grittily realistic vision, showing the seedy side of New York and portraying a hero who breaks the rules to get results, brilliantly played by Gene Hackman, who deservedly won an Oscar for the performance.
The director also goes one better than the memorable car chase he brought to the screen in Bullitt (qv), this time with an iconic car chase which involves an elevated railway, which is worth sitting through the rest of the film for alone.
A landmark crime picture and absolute classic of 1970's cinema.

Gene Hackman in The French Connection
Gene Hackman in The French Connection


D: John Frankenheimer

20th Century Fox (Robert L. Rosen)

US 🇺🇸 1975

119 mins


W: Alexander Jacobs, Robert Dillon & Laurie Dillon

DP: Claude Renoir

Ed: Tom Rolf

Mus: Don Ellis

Gene Hackman (Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle), Fernando Rey (Alain Charnier), Bernard Fresson (Henri Barthelemy), Philippe Leotard (Jacques), Ed Lauter (Gen. Brian)

Gene Hackman & Fernando Rey return, but the rest of the cast & crew (and even the definite article in the title) from the 1971 classic step aside for a fictionalised sequel to the true events that were dramatised in the first film.

Narcotics cop Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle travels to Marseilles so he can identify drug dealer Alain Charnier and bring him to justice, but ultimately finds himself in too deep out of his native city.

This sequel is very different to the first film, not only because of the director switch, but it also feels like the studio wanted real closure to the story, which was left quite open to interpretation in the first film.

Considering this was released when sequels weren’t really a thing, this is far from a cash-grab, and is actually quite a good thriller in its own right, and Gene Hackman is excellent in his reprisal of the role which won him a Best Actor Oscar, but the film is nowhere near in the same league as the 1971 Best Picture winner.


Gene Hackman in French Connection II
Gene Hackman in French Connection II