William Friedkin’s gritty police drama portrays two tough New York City cops trying to intercept a huge heroin shipment coming from France. An interesting contrast is established between ‘Popeye’ Doyle, a short-tempered alcoholic bigot who is nevertheless a hard-working and dedicated police officer, and his nemesis Alain Charnier, a suave and urbane gentleman who is nevertheless a criminal and one of the largest drug suppliers of pure heroin to North America. During the surveillance and eventual bust, Friedkin provides one of the most gripping and memorable car chase sequences ever filmed.
The French Connection is a 1971 American dramatic thriller film directed by William Friedkin and produced by Philip D’Antoni. It stars Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, and Roy Scheider. The film was adapted and fictionalized by Ernest Tidyman from the 1969 non-fiction book by Robin Moore. It tells the story of New York Police Department detectives, “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, whose real-life counterparts were Narcotics Detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso. Don Ellis scored the film.
It was the first R-rated movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture since the introduction of the MPAA film rating system. It also won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Gene Hackman), Best Director (William Friedkin), Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay (Ernest Tidyman). It was nominated for Best Supporting Actor (Roy Scheider), Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing. Tidyman also received a Golden Globe Award nomination, a Writers Guild of America Award and an Edgar Award for his screenplay. A sequel, French Connection II, followed in 1975 with Gene Hackman and Fernando Rey reprising their roles.
The American Film Institute included the film in its list of the best American films in 1998 and again in 2007. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
The French Connection (1971)
Directed by: William Friedkin
Starring: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider, Fernando Rey, Tony Lo Bianco, Marcel Bozzuffi, Ann Rebbot, Arlene Farber, Sonny Grosso
Screenplay by: Ernest Tidyman
Cinematography by: Owen Roizman
Film Editing by: Gerald B. Greenberg
Costume Design by: Joseph Fretwell
Set Decoration by: Edward Garzero
Music by: Don Ellis
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: October 9, 1971