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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> June 2000 >> The French Connection

The French Connection

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
2 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
June 2000
IMDB Name:
French Connection, The (1971)
William Friedkin
action, crime, mystery
MPAA Rating:


I can't be sure how The French Connection played in 1971, but I was immediately put off by the racist remarks of the main character. Gene Hackman makes Jimmy Doyle an interesting anti-hero. There is no backstory to speak of, no explanation for his nickname, and tactics that wouldn't go over well if caught on video today. Of course, New York was probably a much tougher place then, calling for more drastic measures.

Pursuit of Closure

Some of the best parts of French Connection are chases. I enjoyed the sequence with Doyle tracking Charnier around town, including the antics with the subway train. Fernando Rey's face throughout the sequence is a model of appearing completely innocent, while still making things difficult for his hunter. Some of the car following was well done, too, especially considering the lengths to which Sal goes to be difficult to track.

French Connection held the record for best car chase for a while. There are certainly interesting aspects to it, but I didn't find it particularly gripping. I enjoyed the multi-layer chase as the prey on the train was being followed on foot in the train and by car under the elevated tracks. The conclusion of that chase, much like the conclusion of the movie, leaves nothing resolved. In fact, everything is left wide open for French Connection II.

Fingernails on Chalkboard

I am not usually one to call out such things, but I really hated the Don Ellis score. It is filled with tonality-bending dissonances that really hurt. I want to think that a quick round of tuning would make a big difference, but the crunchy sound of the ever-so-slightly-off strings is maddening.

Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.