The French Connection

Released 1971




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Movie Summary

William Friedkin

New York City narcotics detective James "Popeye" Doyle and his partner, Buddy Russo, become curious when they happen to see a small-time shopkeeper, Sal Boca, wining and dining an important underworld figure at a bar where they go for an off-duty drink. At the same time, they get wind of a big heroin shipment coming into New York soon. A Frenchman, Charnier, is masterminding the smuggling of the heroin (with an estimated value of $32,000,000) and when his associate, Nicoli, tries to kill the intrusive Doyle, the game gets very rough indeed. This famous cop thriller, based on a true story, was a huge hit in its day and won five Oscars.


Metacritic Score

  • 90


    Producer and screenwriter have added enough fictional flesh to provide director William Friedkin and his overall topnotch cast with plenty of material, and they make the most of it.

  • 90

    TV Guide Magazine

    This tough, brilliant crime film features Hackman as the indefatigable Popeye Doyle, who passionately hates drug pushers.

  • 90

    The New York Times

    The French Connection is a film of almost incredible suspense, and it includes, among a great many chilling delights, the most brilliantly executed chase sequence I have ever seen....

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • Several actors turned down the role of "Popeye Doyle" before Gene Hackman was cast; so did a non-professional, the columnist Jimmy Breslin. Gene Hackman claimed he was unhappy for his first several days on the picture and actually asked director William Friedkin to replace him. Friedkin refused and Hackman later won an Oscar and became a major star with this performance.

    • William Friedkin claimed in an interview that the real-life "French connection" had evaded justice, not by disappearing, as in the film, but because of the direct (though secret) intervention of the French president, Charles de Gaulle. He claimed that the man was a certain Jean Jehane, an elderly figure with no criminal record, who had been a major figure in the Resistance during the Second World War and a friend of de Gaulle's as a result.

    • The executive producer of this film (making a rare excursion into film-making) was G. David Schine, who, some twenty years earlier, had been a notorious figure as one of the two chief aides to the rabidly anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy. Schine's conscription into the US Army had led indirectly to McCarthy's downfall - his complaints about army life had led McCarthy to suggest that the service was full of Communists, which had in turn brought about legal hearings at which McCarthy's lies, evasions, innuendoes and other dirty tricks over several years were relentlessly exposed. The complicity of Schine and McCarthy's other aide, Roy Cohn, in these was also exposed. Schine subsequently became an entrepreneur and died in a plane crash in 1996.

    • The film was made on a budget of $2.2 million and won five Oscars, including one for Best Picture. It made Gene Hackman an international star and was a huge box-office success.

    • This film was a fictionalised version of a famous real-life police case which occurred in 1961. The two New York cops involved, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, both had acting roles in the film and began secondary careers in show business as a result.

  • QUOTES (1)

  • NOTES (2)

    • The film won 5 Academy Awards for Best Film Editing, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gene Hackman) and Best Picture.

    • Screenplays by both Alexander Jacobs and Robert E. Thompson were commissioned and written, but director William Friedkin rejected both of them before hiring Ernest Tidyman, a successful novelist and former crime reporter, to write the film. Friedkin later ungraciously claimed that the final draft produced by Tidyman had not been very good, but it had given the actors a base from which they could improvise scenes satisfactorily under his (Friedkin's) supervision. Despite this, Tidyman won one of the film's five Oscars for his script.


More Info About This Movie


Thrillers, Crime, Classics