‘The French Connection’ directed by William Friedkin in 1971
it’s heartbreaking The moment when Pontiac races 90 mph under a dashed NYC’s elevated subway in Lemmons, dodging traffic and pedestrians in a wild race to rumble the top of a hijacked N train. That five-minute sequence—a crash course in ’70s guerrilla filmmaking—is now considered by many to be the best movie car chase of all time.
However, with the 50th anniversary of “French Connection” Revealing this week, legendary actor Gene Hackman is really blunt about the anti-death scene — and the lasting impact of the gritty police drama that won him his first of two Oscars.
“Filmmaking has always been risky — both physically and emotionally — but I choose to consider that film a moment in the checkered career of hits and misses,” said 91-year-old Eklin Hackman, who retired from screen in 2004. told. A rare interview – his first in a decade.
“As for Car Chase, a better one was filmed a few years ago with Steve McQueen,” he added via email, referring to his fellow film icon. Motorized Mustang Getaway Through the Rolling Hills of San Francisco 1968’s “Bullitt.”
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Potential East Coast-West Coast beef aside, Hackman’s classic NYC crime thriller has secured its place in cinematic history. But in the 26-block section of Brooklyn — stretching from Gravesend to Bensonhurst — on which its most iconic scene was shot, the moment is all but forgotten.
In half a century, nearly every shop on the streets below that path of above-ground subway has changed dramatically, legendary director William Friedkin, 86, told The Post. Returning to the field of decades Later, he found that when “The French Connection” premiered in theaters on October 7, 1971, the corner of Brooklyn was “not nearly as bad as that terrible neighborhood”.
some things passed However, it stayed the same: Today, Nabe still feels light-years from Manhattan, and light still filters through the subway’s slats, throwing patterned sunlight onto the sidewalk. The world of Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Hackman) and Buddy “Claudie” Russo (the late Roy Scheider), however, is long gone—but it never really existed beyond Friedkin. young stray mind Otherwise too.
“[I] made his own version of New York,” Friedkin said of his silver screen setting for the true crime story of two NYPD Narcotics Detectives who, in 1961, busted a prolific heroin-smuggling ring.
Yes, his film captured the reality of the Big Apple in the early ’70s as it went bankrupt, but Friedkin is hesitant to call “The French Connection” a period piece. Much of the film’s magic appeared not from that era but from its own crazy vision and the fact that “I was blessed, as I was in ‘The Exorcist,’ with a perfect cast.”
Indeed, after all these years, the 1972 Academy Award-winning Best Director is most perplexed by how five decades have distorted his former Outer Borough film set, but to try out the many shots he got. How crazy he was, shots that certainly wouldn’t be possible today – but then, they “were not possible then – we just did.”
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“I was chasing a whale like Captain Ahab. [I had] A supreme confidence, a sort of sleepwalker’s assurance,” Friedkin said, reflecting on his instrumental days. “As successful as the film was, I wouldn’t do it anymore. I put people’s lives at risk.”
That car chase scene, for one, was shot illegally.
Randy Jurgenson – Famous NYPD detective who later consulted On Friedkin’s controversial “Cruising” and “Donnie Brasco”—Pontiac leaned in behind, ready to show his badge to anyone, while Friedkin himself (he stepped in as the cameraman, who had all his family, not his life). at stake) and camera operator Enrique Bravo (an extremely steady hand who traveled with Castro to film the Cuban Revolution) enlisted stuntman Bill Hickman to fully take care of the underpass using three cameras. Shot for, all were attached to Pontiac (“We can’t buy a camera car.”)
However, Friedkin did manage to secure a permit to shoot on the train itself – for a price of $40,000 plus a one-way ticket to Jamaica.
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“If I allow you to do that, I’ll be fired,” the city official reportedly explained to Friedkin when the director asked why he didn’t want a return flight.
In another moment of vision-induced madness, Friedkin recalled telling Jurgensen, “In about 45 minutes I’m going to be ready to shoot a traffic jam on the Brooklyn Bridge, and he said ‘I understand’”. The policemen stop to drive over the bridge before getting on various off-duties and create a traffic jam as seen in the movie. When a police helicopter came to investigate, Jurgensen simply showed his badge. “They were angry,” recalled Friedkin – but they disappeared. “I wouldn’t do anything like that today,” he said.
Overall, it was a miracle that there were no casualties in the film.
“It was only by the grace of God that no one was hurt or injured in any way – or died because of that,” Friedkin said.
In honor of the film’s 50th, Jurgensen – “the last surviving ‘French Connection’ spy” – will attend a November ceremony hosted by the Academy, and had a large Italian dinner with a group of men in Queens last month. All appeared in the film as extras, he told The Post. Friedkin said he might even “show up” at one of the planned anniversary screenings.
As for the film’s star, Hackman never bothered to rewatch “The French Connection” and has no plans for an anniversary. “[I] Haven’t seen the film since the first screening in a dark, small viewing room in a post-production company’s facility 50 years ago,” he told The Post, adding, “If the film has a legacy, I’m not sure that What is going to happen? At the time, it seemed to me the revered story of a cop who was able to solve and stop a major crime family’s attempt to infiltrate the New York drug scene.”
The reclusive actor, who left Hollywood with his classical pianist wife Betsy Arakawa, 59, to drown Hollywood in the sunset of Santa Fe, allows that film—considered by many to be his biggest performance as the boozing, bigoted Popeye. Goes – there is a highlight. “The movie definitely helped me in my career, and I’m grateful for that,” said the person, who starred in cult classics and mainstream hits including “The Conversation,” “Superman,” “Hoosiers” . “Unforgiven,” “The Birdcage” and “The Royal Tenenbaums.”
Meanwhile, the biggest tribute to “The French Connection” on its historic anniversary is perhaps its enduring popularity—a pleasant surprise for Friedkin, who openly admits he never anticipated that his film would have such an enduring popularity. will have an effect.
“I think we’ll get away with it,” Fridkin told his producer during the wrap-up shoot. “But don’t prepare your Oscar speech.”
As for his personal opinion on how today’s audiences should interpret his cinematic marvel, Friedkin said, “I think the takeaway is this is a really good action film.”