The French Connection

on October 09, 1971 by BOXOFFICE Staff
A thriller in every sense of the word. "The French Connection" has what most pictures dealing with drugs lack namely action. The highlight, one of the most exciting sequences of the year, is slammed over by Gene Hackman in a car as he recklessly pursues killer Marcel Bozzuffi on an elevated train. Credit for the action must be shared by producer Philip ("Bullitt") D'Antoni, director William Friedkin and stunt coordinator Bill Hickman. That the film is unsatisfying in other respects, especially in an ending where justice lightly triumphs, will be more than offset by a large response at the ticket windows. A fine actor, Hackman is cast as one of the most unsympathetic cop heroes on record. Ernest Tidyman's screenplay is based on Robin Moore's book, which recounted the true adventures of Manhattan narcotics detectives Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso. Both have small roles (Egan is excellent in his), adding to the unnatural quality of Hackman's character. The acting is first rate and straight from life. 86 New York City locations, plus shooting in Washington D.C., and Marseilles, France (with English titles for the French dialogue ), add to the realism. The natural dialogue occasionally provides some humor. Color by Deluxe.

New York detectives Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider pursue drug pushers and users, employing strong-arm tactics. Hackman becomes suspicious when Tony LoBianco and wife Arlene Farber, who run a candy store, are able to enjoy expensive pleasures. Capt. Eddie Egan is persuaded to assign the detectives to a special detail. Harold Gary, LoBianco's chief, is head of a narcotics ring negotiating to buy $32 million worth of heroin from Fernando Rey. French TV star Frederic De Pasquale smuggles it in a hidden car. Rey and assassin Marcel Bozzuffi arrive to consummate the deal and are followed by Hackman and Scheider. Bozzuffi tries to kill Hackman, who pursues in a car as an elevated train which Bozzuffi has boarded goes out of control. Hackman shoots Bozzuffi, then orders De Pasquale's car to be stripped. The payoff is interrupted by police; LoBianco dies and Hackman accidentally kills officer Bill Hickman. Rey escapes and the others receive light sentences.

Tie in with recent news headlines about crackdowns on drug rings. Bantam Books has a paperback version of the novel in print. Invite police personnel to screenings.

The time is just right for an out and out thriller like this... Doyle is bad news but a cop... A gut crunching thriller. 20th-Fox 104 mins.

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