William Friedkin’s 1971 release, The French Connection is one of the finest films of the 1970s. Friedkin’s film is beautifully textured and there’s a real vérité style to the piece which adds to its authenticity (thanks to Owen Roizman’s Academy Award nominated cinematography).
At the heart of The French Connection is a brilliantly complex performance from Gene Hackman as New York cop Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle. In a career filled with great performances, Hackman’s work in The French Connection might be his best.
The film follows Doyle and his partner Cloud Russo (Roy Scheider) as they attempt to break a drugs ring led by Fernando Rey. The film was based on the non-fiction book by Robin Moore, which was adapted into a screenplay by Earnest Tidyman.
William Friedkin‘s film went on to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The French Connection grossed $51 million at the US box office in 1971. It was followed by John Frankenheimer’s, The French Connection II in 1975. That film grossed $12.4 million.