My current Top 5

My current Top 5

4/13/2011

Number 54: The French Connection (Best Picture Ranking)

The French Connection is another rather unusual winner in this category since it doesn’t concern itself with war or some social problem, it’s not a musical or a groundbreaking epic – it’s simple an almost old-fashioned crime film about two cops and their fight against heroin smugglers. What’s probably the reason why this movie works so well is the fact that this old-fashioned story is combined with a modern, thrilling, fast and gripping execution.

Thanks to the central character of Jimmy Doyle, The French Connection is also not a traditional good guys vs. bad guys story since Doyle is a loud, foul-mouthed, brutal and feisty cop who is willing to take all measures necessary to fulfil his tasks. Gene Hackman burns up the screen in this part and his Oscar win is also rather unusual since his character, like the movie itself, doesn’t follow the usual ‘formula’ to win an Oscar but Hackman is a true force-of-nature on the screen. It’s maybe debatable if he gives a truly great performance but he creates a truly fascinating character. Roy Scheider gives dependable support while the remaining cast members play their parts satisfactorily.

The French Connection is a movie that constantly sacrifices the whole to focus on its parts – a wise choice since the plot, while inserted nicely into the overall picture, lacks real structure and development. That’s why The French Connection benefits mostly from the way it presents certain scenes, how it focuses on the action and how it creates suspense. Such memorable scenes are Doyle following a smuggler to a subway station and then trying not to be noticed by him, Doyle being shot at and then following the guy in one of the most famous car chase scenes ever until he shots him in the back, Doyle and Russo raiding a bar or the surprisingly dark ending. In some ways, The French Connection is similar to An American in Paris as a triumph of style over substance but The French Connection comes out as the winner since its plot goes definitely deeper than the superficial love story in An American in Paris.

The French Connection benefits from its technical values and its ability to present a lot of scenes in a very captivating way while letting Gene Hackman (and to an extent Roy Scheider) provide the necessary human emotions. It’s a crime thriller on a very high level and never loses its tempo or its suspense while allowing the central characters to shine more than expected.

5 comments:

Louis Morgan said...

I thought it was a very effective thriller, and an interesting crime story. Besides Hackman, also thought Fernando Rey was quite good, with a minimalistic performance. I would probably put it higher.

dinasztie said...

Very great thriller.

Anonymous said...

A great film, the rating is probably alright but it is certainly not better than The Lost Weekend (just my opinion of course).

hey deanie said...

Amazing. One of the best wins in the category.

Malcolm said...

I thought it was okay but very dated.

And I don't know, but I really thought the only real action started after 50 minutes.

I certainly have respect in it, as it is in times effective, but in a race between this and Fiddler on the Roof, I'd definitely go with the latter.