It’s certainly not about the plot. If that were the case, The French Connection would qualify as a 30 minute short film.
Nor is it about the acting. Even though stars Gene Hackman (who won the Best Actor Oscar for the film) and Roy Scheider (who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor) turn in their usual stellar performances. (And maybe that’s part of the problem. I expect them to be this good, so their work in this film doesn’t particularly stand out as anything better than what we usually get from them.)
So why did this film receive The Best Picture Award (becoming the first R-Rated movie to do so after the introduction of the MPAA’s film rating system), and director William Friedkin win Best Director, and why did it also garner Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Editing? Why is it consistently hailed as one of the all-time great crime dramas?
It’s all about the chase.
Of course, the funny thing is that as pivotal as that grand car vs elevated train chase sequence is, it didn’t even go as planned, since there weren’t actually supposed to be any crashes.
Nonetheless, yeah, it’s all about the chase.
And that ain’t a bad thing at all.
- “The French Connection” Blues (hipopinion.com)
- The Post-FRENCH CONNECTION Exploits Of The Real Popeye Doyle (badassdigest.com)
- The 75 best-edited movies of all time (kottke.org)