In 1971, William Friedkin
directed this classic police drama, a commercial breakthrough film for him. He with producer Phillip D’Antoni
put together a true to life film about the largest narcotics seizure that took place in 1962. The style in which they brought The French Connection
together (semi-documentary) was innovative to say the least at the time and was able to tell the story with very few words. They added to the authenticity of the film by using dozens of on location NYC sites and many hand held camera shots which puts the viewer directly into the action, which is quite a bit of it in this film.
What else brings this movie into it’s own genre is the gritty, gutsy, powerful performances of Gene Hackman, and Roy Scheider. Unlike today’s action flicks, which rely on violent scenes and blood and gore, French Connection relied on raw performances, genuine genius direction, in your face camera work, and complex characters that you care about, but never really know or understand.
When the Oscars were given out, The French Connection garnered 8 nominations and 5 wins, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Hackman.