AFI 100 Progress: The French Connection
“What is this, a fuckin’ hospital here?”
With Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey and Roy Scheider.
Sometimes it’s not about who does it best as much as it is about who does it first. That’s the case with The French Connection. While I much prefer Serpico and Marathon Man, movies with a similar gritty style and paranoia-driven subject matter, The French Connection receives far more acclaim for being an innovation in this type of thriller. It’s kind of like how Bonnie and Clyde receives so much credit for its revisionist take on the west and its hybrid clashing of the western and gangster genres. Badlands and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may have perfected that style, but Bonnie and Clyde beat them to the punch. The French Connection is still a fine film, but I simply prefer the other ones I mentioned. I’m sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me. I just felt rather detached from the story and could never fully immerse myself in it. Hackman was great, but the film felt rather stagnant until finally picking up with the stellar car-chasing-train climax.
There was once a time when I knew Gene Hackman solely as “the coach from The Replacements.” While my wealth of movie knowledge has grown substantially since then, that’s probably the role I’ll always remember him in.
RIYL: Serpico, Marathon Man, The Conversation.