TTYA – The French Connection (1971)

I’m Gene Hackman, and this is my police station. I work here with my director, Bill Friedkin, and my partner Roy Scheider. Every inmate in here has a story, and a minimum sentence. One thing I’ve learned in years – you never know who is going to come through that door… except I do, because I probably arrested them.

Spoilers

Sorry, I’m a shitposter at heart.

1971’s Best Picture winner is one that I’ve already expressed my feelings on when I ranked all the Best Picture winners of the 70’s. I put ranked it as the worst of the ten, which no doubt angered people who hate Kramer vs. Kramer, but I stand by that list. After watching it again, I still think The French Connection is a boring, confusing film that does absolutely nothing in the way of entertaining me.

I’ve never been a big fan of Gene Hackman. He’s like Sterling Hayden, in terms of his manner and the characters he typically plays, but none of the charisma. Here, he just plays an annoying, asshole cop whose personality I can not even slightly distinguish from his character in Unforgiven. The only difference is that here, he is supposed to be our protagonist.

I really could not tell you what this movie was about if I tried. I’ve seen it twice, I tried not to get sidetrack, but even then it’s so poorly written that it is impossible to follow. This is the IMDb plot summary;

A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

I gathered that much, but anything more complicated than the basic premise, any details or anything, were completely lost on me. I couldn’t point out a single plot point in this movie, because at no point did I ever register what was supposed to be happening. A lot of that has to do with how rushed this movie is, and how it is directed. This movie’s pacing is horrible, it never develops anything, or gives you time to like any of the characters. The introduction to Hackman and Scheider is them chasing and arresting some dude (again, no idea what’s supposed to be happening), and then they go to the station where some dude says the n-word. This is about all we get, the film gives us no reason at all to give two shits about anyone. It’s not like in Dunkirk, where you don’t need to care about the characters, because the scope of the events is enough to establish the significance of what is happening. In this, the center of events is just some NYC cops trying to bust a heroin trade. I personally don’t give a shit about that, so I need to be interested in the characters, but the characters are total assholes. TL;DR I hate the way this movie  is written.

I also don’t care much for the way that this is directed. It’s clear that Friedkin had just watched Le samouraï before he made it, because he is biting Melville’s style so hard. And while I can get behind Le Cercle Rouge and Army of Shadows, I don’t like Le samouraï, mainly because it is so boringly shot. But at least that movie was French, so I could at least pretend it was all artsy. Here, it’s just a dumb action movie. Hell, it’s a dumb grindhouse action movie, which is even worse.

I really hate that this won best picture over A Clockwork Orange. Anyone who says that this is better than that masterpiece is just saying it to fuck with me.

3/10

Thank you, and remember kids, there’s not a safe that can resist Cesar and not a woman that Cesar can resist.

Also, check out the latest episode of my podcast.

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