Gene Hackman will forever be etched in my mind as sadistic Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle, the sadistic undercover NYC narcotics officer, who rides that fine line between good cop and bad cop, in the great police classic, The French Connection (1971)
He becomes obsessed with the drug pushers to the point where you almost don’t like him. Actually you don’t like him at all, but he doesn’t care, he has a job to do.
The film’s script was based on Robin Moore’s best-selling book of the same name about the ruthless, real-life adventures of Harlem special narcotics squad officers Eddie Egan (the Doyle character) and Sonny Grosso (the Russo character). To imagine in 1971 that police officers were truly like this was I am sure an eye opening experience. The first time I saw this film was in the late 80’s and I became entranced to Hackman’s portrayal of this vulgar, ruthless cop, destined to make a name for himself regardless of what he had to do to get the bad guys. From that moment on, Gene became one of my most favorite actors.
The movie was nominated eight Academy Award nominations, winning in five categories: Best Director (William Friedkin), Best Actor (Hackman), Best Adapted Screenplay (Ernest Tidyman), Best Editing (Jerry Greenberg), and Best Picture. The three other nominations included: Best Supporting Actor (Roy Scheider), Best Cinematography (Owen Roizman), and Best Sound.