Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
JulyDiaz

The French Connection

The French Connection  

12 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Does "The French Connection" belong on the AFI List?

    • Yes
      4
    • No
      8

  • Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.
  • Poll closed on 03/01/19 at 08:00 AM

Recommended Posts

I was really disappointed that Paul rolled over so easily on the French Connection. I recall Amy making strong cases for Ben Hur and Swing Time not belonging on the AFI list in those episodes. Her argument that Swing Time is in fact the wrong Rodgers-Astaire movie to honor was particularly convincing. In my mind, even if you don’t love, or even really like the French Connection, there’s no denying it’s entertaining, and I think, a more effective snapshot of its time and place, i.e. gritty 1970s New York, than the others are at capturing Bible times and the golden age of blackface.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Also, the key to any stakeout is to make a big production out of dumping a cup of soup onto the sidewalk while standing in your suspect's eyeline. Only a brilliant criminal mind like Charnier could detect such cunning!

 

The awesome getting-off-the-subway-then-back-on-again dance was so much fun. What on earth did Popeye think Charnier would think? By that point Popeye might as well walk up to him and say 'I'm following you now, bud'. I loved the walking stick stopping the door opening, and best of all the little wave Charnier gives as he rolls out. So badass.

 

Of course, the main question I have is: who is buying Custard on a train platform in New York City? How much are you selling that it becomes your stand's main selling point?

 

13941026709_95ef07372a_o.jpg

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Of course, the main question I have is: who is buying Custard on a train platform in New York City? How much are you selling that it becomes your stand's main selling point?

 

I loved this too! He was supposedly at the "Grand Central" station and I can't imagine getting a freshly squeezed OJ while waiting for the train there, although for 20 cents it's quite a bargain.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Of course, the main question I have is: who is buying Custard on a train platform in New York City? How much are you selling that it becomes your stand's main selling point?

 

13941026709_95ef07372a_o.jpg

I've never been on the NYC subway but, if it's anything like Seattle's transit tunnel, every arriving vehicle kicks up a hot swirling cloud of filth. Imagine standing on the platform and going for a lick, only to find your ice cream cone covered in rat fur.

 

Aside: Jesus Christ, Titanic is 3h15m?!

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

This is the second time I’ve watched The French Connection, and I think, like Amy, I liked it more on an intellectual level than for entertainment purposes. I’m not sure when (if?) I will ever revisit it. For me, it never really raises to beyond “decent 70’s cop flick.” I didn’t hate it, but if I were to choose between this and The Exorcist, I’m hands down choosing Pazuzu over Popeye

 

I think I have to agree with Kael’s review. It’s a well-directed film, but it never really delves any deeper than “sometimes the ‘good guys’ are shit heels and sometimes the ‘bad guys’ are loving family men who buy their girlfriends cameras. Did I blow your mind? Also, his nickname is Popeye because 'he is what he is.' You got to take him or leave him. Clever, right?"

 

It also seems to be trying to make a case for “you have to be hard to do this job,” but aside from baguette thief, all the violence against law enforcement is retaliatory. They’re the ones stirring up the shit.

 

However, I think this movie’s greatest crime has to be the coda at the end. That lone gunshot is haunting because we don’t know who fires it. It’s the most important question of the movie. Did Popeye shoot and kill Charnier OR did Charnier get the drop on Popeye? And if Charnier killed Popeye, would/should you care? Which of these “monsters” would you rather see taken off the street? The coda completely eliminates that ambiguity, and for me, dilutes its impact. So...Charnier gets away and Popeye gets reassigned? Did he just completely miss the shot then?

 

Anyway, I liked the movie just fine, but I probably won’t watch it again until my boys are older and I’m introducing them to the more mature classic films. So, I guess ~10+ years from now I’ve got a date to pick my toes in Poughkeepsie with Popeye, Cloudy, and my kids. Looking forward to it :)

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post

One other thing: I was a little sad that the observations and contributions from this forum on 'Swing Time' weren't mentioned, but polls on Twitter were a big part of the conversation. As someone who doesn't use Twitter, I missed that completely! Is the plan that Twitter is going to be the place to post about Unspooled, or will this forum also be incorporated sometimes? After seeing both Paul and Amy drop in last week I thought that there might be some interaction (and I know it's tough with a 60 minute podcast to fit everything in), but I would like to think that if Twitter poll questions were asked in this forum, you'd get plenty of feedback and contributions! Many of us in here are used to the HDTGM model so you know there'll be material worth using. If nothing else, if anyone sees a Twitter poll, link it in here, maybe.

 

I just finished the episode today, and consequently, just read all the posts here. As someone who is taking a temporary (permanent?) hiatus from Twitter, I feel you. However, here on the forums we tend to be...verbose. HDTGM is a good model, but it also has the benefit of having mini-episodes (that people are free to skip if they don’t want to listen to our in-depth dissections into Streets of Fire or whatever). Unspooled is a weekly, 60 minute show. Tweets are, by design, brief. Therefore, Amy and Paul get listener interaction without slowing down the flow. Unfortunately, that means - outside some “the people on the forums are saying” - I wouldn’t expect too many forum shout outs. I’m not saying it will never happen, but not on a HDTGM mini-episode level.

 

That being said, didn’t they talk about maybe doing recap or review episodes every so often? Maybe those would be a good time to bring up any of the great insights you guys bring up on here.

 

Regardless, I’m just psyched to talk to you guys about movies ;)

 

On another note, if Amy and Paul are reading this, I just want you guys to know that you two are absolutely killing it!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
I've never been on the NYC subway but, if it's anything like Seattle's transit tunnel, every arriving vehicle kicks up a hot swirling cloud of filth. Imagine standing on the platform and going for a lick, only to find your ice cream cone covered in rat fur.

 

Hmm, in a NYC subway station, I'd imagine mostly fecal matter - rats and mole people.

 

ETA: Forgot to ask, when did movies start having realistic looking blood? Did anyone else think the blood in this movie was just way too bright?

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post

 

I just finished the episode today, and consequently, just read all the posts here. As someone who is taking a temporary (permanent?) hiatus from Twitter, I feel you. However, here on the forums we tend to be...verbose. HDTGM is a good model, but it also has the benefit of having mini-episodes (that people are free to skip if they don’t want to listen to our in-depth dissections into Streets of Fire or whatever). Unspooled is a weekly, 60 minute show. Tweets are, by design, brief. Therefore, Amy and Paul get listener interaction without slowing down the flow. Unfortunately, that means - outside some “the people on the forums are saying” - I wouldn’t expect too many forum shout outs. I’m not saying it will never happen, but not on a HDTGM mini-episode level.

 

That being said, didn’t they talk about maybe doing recap or review episodes every so often? Maybe those would be a good time to bring up any of the great insights you guys bring up on here.

 

Regardless, I’m just psyched to talk to you guys about movies ;)

 

On another note, if Amy and Paul are reading this, I just want you guys to know that you two are absolutely killing it!

Yeah, I totally get why the forum isn't front and centre the way it is in minisodes, but I would have loved the chance to be polled about the question of the week, and hoped that we might hear about things here. I guess it just comes down to checking Twitter a bit more often, no biggie.

 

Cam's opinion about Paul and Amy killing it is officially co-signed here. Such a great podcast.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

I'm kind of surprised at the number of people who aren't into French Connection. I think the movie is undeniably great. It's maybe not always enjoyable since it shows a lot of police brutality and racism. The characters aren't likeable and there really is no hero in this at all. But I think the redeeming factor of this is that the movie, in my mind, doesn't glamorize them or make them feel like heroes at all (and I'll definitely use that as my main criticism for hating MASH whenever it comes up).

 

There is so much palpable energy in this that just flies off the screen. Movies rarely have this kind of energy. It feels alive. Movies before this (and few after) feel like you are just in this thick of it like The French Connection. I'm not saying the movie needs to be near the top but I'm totally fine with it being on this list.

 

If we're going with the idea that AFI included a few token movies for certain genres/film archetypes, what would people put in French Connection's place? It doesn't have to necessarily need to be gritty cop movie but something similar in genre.

 

A suggestion I have for some people (maybe only those who liked The French Connection) is To Live And Die In LA. It's a gritty cop movie from William Friedkin with a car chase that is comparable to French Connection and, in my mind, a bit better.

ETA: Forgot to ask, when did movies start having realistic looking blood? Did anyone else think the blood in this movie was just way too bright?

I'm sure there's another, earlier example but the first color movie I can think of off the top of my head is Carrie. I'm not sure when it became the industry standard but certainly by the time slasher movies took hold in the 80s.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post

I'm kind of surprised at the number of people who aren't into French Connection. I think the movie is undeniably great. It's maybe not always enjoyable since it shows a lot of police brutality and racism. The characters aren't likeable and there really is no hero in this at all. But I think the redeeming factor of this is that the movie, in my mind, doesn't glamorize them or make them feel like heroes at all (and I'll definitely use that as my main criticism for hating MASH whenever it comes up).

 

There is so much palpable energy in this that just flies off the screen. Movies rarely have this kind of energy. It feels alive. Movies before this (and few after) feel like you are just in this thick of it like The French Connection. I'm not saying the movie needs to be near the top but I'm totally fine with it being on this list.

 

If we're going with the idea that AFI included a few token movies for certain genres/film archetypes, what would people put in French Connection's place? It doesn't have to necessarily need to be gritty cop movie but something similar in genre.

 

A suggestion I have for some people (maybe only those who liked The French Connection) is To Live And Die In LA. It's a gritty cop movie from William Friedkin with a car chase that is comparable to French Connection and, in my mind, a bit better.

 

I'm sure there's another, earlier example but the first color movie I can think of off the top of my head is Carrie. I'm not sure when it became the industry standard but certainly by the time slasher movies took hold in the 80s.

 

I agree with what you’re saying here. While watching it, I felt like I could smell the stink of the city. Everything is so palpable. I think my problem, mainly, is that it’s almost done too well - too realistic. It’s the same way I feel about a really well-written novel that deals with difficult themes. I can respect it, but I don’t want to live in that world longer than I need to.

 

Personally, I’m fine with it being on the list; however, I wouldn’t exactly lose any sleep if it got booted off.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

Yeah, I totally get why the forum isn't front and centre the way it is in minisodes, but I would have loved the chance to be polled about the question of the week, and hoped that we might hear about things here. I guess it just comes down to checking Twitter a bit more often, no biggie.

 

Cam's opinion about Paul and Amy killing it is officially co-signed here. Such a great podcast.

 

Amy does read stuff from the forums on the Canon podcast (which does not have minisodes -- she does a quick recap of the previous week's comments before talking about the new film), so I think both shows have set a bit of an expectation that forum replies are the best way to interact. That said, it is of course their choice how they want to handle this one. There's no voting like there is in The Canon and no weekly "Winner" like for HDTGM.

 

I'm on Twitter, but mostly a lurker. Not much interest in commenting there.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
I'm kind of surprised at the number of people who aren't into French Connection. I think the movie is undeniably great. It's maybe not always enjoyable since it shows a lot of police brutality and racism. The characters aren't likeable and there really is no hero in this at all. But I think the redeeming factor of this is that the movie, in my mind, doesn't glamorize them or make them feel like heroes at all (and I'll definitely use that as my main criticism for hating MASH whenever it comes up).

My disconnect stems from the fact that the film establishes a palpably grimy setting and then makes its protagonists almost (but not quite) comically inept. The Santa Claus chase and the subway tail and Popeye's morning-after handcuffed-to-the-bed scene and the train driver's heart attack were juuust shy of being Fletch, but the rest of the movie features stroller-pushing mothers gunned down by snipers and murdered transit cops and car crash corpses. One click in either direction and it could be Beverly Hills Cop or Die Hard, but instead its tone careens between extremes, and the whole movie feels aimless as a result.

 

Is this indicative of filmmaking in the 70s? All of my points of reference are obviously from the 80s, so I'm willing to accept the possibility that I am at fault here.

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
If we're going with the idea that AFI included a few token movies for certain genres/film archetypes, what would people put in French Connection's place? It doesn't have to necessarily need to be gritty cop movie but something similar in genre.

 

My disconnect stems from the fact that the film establishes a palpably grimy setting and then makes its protagonists almost (but not quite) comically inept. The Santa Claus chase and the subway tail and Popeye's morning-after handcuffed-to-the-bed scene and the train driver's heart attack were juuust shy of being Fletch, but the rest of the movie features stroller-pushing mothers gunned down by snipers and murdered transit cops and car crash corpses. One click in either direction and it could be Beverly Hills Cop or Die Hard, but instead its tone careens between extremes, and the whole movie feels aimless as a result.

 

I was gonna suggest Die Hard. Is that not prestige enough though?

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

 

 

I was gonna suggest Die Hard. Is that not prestige enough though?

 

I honestly don't get it's non-inclusion. For sheer cultural significance alone. I mean how many movies have you heard described as "Die Hard on a..." Other than maybe Predator it is the quintessential 80s action movie. It spawned so much, is still actively talked about, it defined a genre and a decade, it made a movie star out of Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman, and it is well made and highly entertaining. It is a great movie. If you need further proof look at all the other movies that tried to copy it and end up paling by comparison.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

Speaking of the Santa Claus Shakedown, one thing I did like in that scene was how sloppy the good cop/bad cop dynamic is. Initially, it feels like Popeye is going to be good cop, then they are both bad cop, then Popeye becomes bad cop (“You got a friend...”). The way it plays out is that the characters are trying to work it out in the moment. Without saying anything explicitly, the two characters are developing a strategy until they realize - like “picking your toes in Poughkeepsie” - having Santa Claus play bad cop would be even more disorienting for the perp.

 

In that one brief scene, the movie sets up - from tone to character- everything that’s to follow.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

My disconnect stems from the fact that the film establishes a palpably grimy setting and then makes its protagonists almost (but not quite) comically inept. The Santa Claus chase and the subway tail and Popeye's morning-after handcuffed-to-the-bed scene and the train driver's heart attack were juuust shy of being Fletch, but the rest of the movie features stroller-pushing mothers gunned down by snipers and murdered transit cops and car crash corpses. One click in either direction and it could be Beverly Hills Cop or Die Hard, but instead its tone careens between extremes, and the whole movie feels aimless as a result.

 

Is this indicative of filmmaking in the 70s? All of my points of reference are obviously from the 80s, so I'm willing to accept the possibility that I am at fault here.

I see where you're coming from but I guess I see this as showing more realism than Fletch was trying to do. Most cop movies that I can think of up to that point show them just succeeding the whole way and nabbing their man. This shows that it doesn't always work like that. Since this movie is based pretty closely on a true story, I'm sure a lot this stuff really happened. I suspect probably not all on the same case or even the same guys. But I bet it's an amalgamation of collected true stories like how the events of Platoon probably happened but not all to the same platoon.

 

I think the aimlessness is probably how working a real international drug case feels for the cops involved. Some days you get the big action days and some days you're sitting around not doing much. I think this might be me justifying its tonal issues because I like this movie though. So, whatever.

 

As an aside, I think Fletch is a really good mystery movie that kind of suffers because of the comedy elements. I like the comedy and I like the mystery but doesn't quite work together. I'd argue Fletch is more ahead of his antagonist than Popeye and Russo are. I'd recommend the first couple books in the series as fun, quick reads. The first one follows the movie pretty much exactly but without the Chevy Chase comedy bits.

I was gonna suggest Die Hard. Is that not prestige enough though?

I think this is exactly why Die Hard isn't on the list. I think a lot of institutes/critics/awards shows don't want to include popular movies because it makes them seem less important.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

It’s been touched upon already, but another thing in The French Connection that really didn’t work for me was the opening scene. I can’t help but think how much stronger the opening would have been if it had just began with the Santa Claus Shakedown. That scene is just so kinetic. As it stands, the French opening doesn’t really add much, and in my wholly unresearched opinion, screams of studio interference. Knowing that the studio wasn’t sold on the film’s title, I feel like some compromise must have been struck where it could be called The French Connection, but in order not to confuse the audience, it has to start in France. I also think that scene is there to establish that Charnier is a bad dude. Granted, he’s not in the scene, but it at least implicitly shows that his character is willing to have someone killed. Otherwise, the movie starts off with a couple of stupid, brutal cops and then cuts to a sympathetic French man who worked his way up from the docks and is a compassionate father and partner. I feel like the studio was like, “Yeah, I get that it’s supposed to be morally ambiguous, but we can’t have the audience siding with the drug dealer over the cops. Have him kill someone: French-style.”

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I think this is exactly why Die Hard isn't on the list. I think a lot of institutes/critics/awards shows don't want to include popular movies because it makes them seem less important.

 

Also, 'Die Hard' was never expected to become the classic it's now seen as - it was based on a little-known novel, starring a TV actor and an English stage performer (and the dad from Family Matters), and was written on the fly. The amazing 'I Was There Too' episode with the screenwriter shows just how slapdash the writing and filming process was - major plot points we see as integral now were made up on the spur of the moment. 'Die Hard' was supposed to be a down and dirty, forgettable cop thriller. They just managed to catch lightning in a bottle and came up with something that became beloved. For that reason, I don't think it would be considered prestige at all.

 

Of course, with ALL of that said, the studios also thought that 'Casablanca' stunk too. So maybe the theory is flawed.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I was surprised how negative they were on this film, but then it has been years since I watched the film. I did read the book recently and discussed it here. The book does not make them out to be racist antiheroes, instead they're straight up good guys and there's no notion that the war on drugs might have any downsides. The stuff about Popeye shooting any cops (or really anyone at all) is entirely made up, although there is a bit where he gets in a fight with an FBI agent. I think the 70s was more the era of gritty crime stories, antiheroes and skepticism of the police. The events of the book took place in 1961, which is practically the 50s.

 

Your quote of Pauline Kael's review reminded me of this from Andrew Sarris on the critical reaction to movies like Dirty Harry & The Cowboys vs Straw Dogs & A Clockwork Orange (she's singled out for preferring violence meted out by criminals than cops). I only heard about The Cowboys due to that dust-up, and later read that the book had been controversial for its homoeroticism, which was not apparent in the film.

Share this post


Link to post

Of course, with ALL of that said, the studios also thought that 'Casablanca' stunk too. So maybe the theory is flawed.

 

In a way I can see this as Casablanca is a very writer-ly movie if you know what I mean.

 

This is why I love the segment that Amy does with the old reviews. To us these movies are classics but maybe when they first came out they weren't considered that way or written off as something else entirely.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

 

Also, 'Die Hard' was never expected to become the classic it's now seen as - it was based on a little-known novel, starring a TV actor and an English stage performer (and the dad from Family Matters), and was written on the fly. The amazing 'I Was There Too' episode with the screenwriter shows just how slapdash the writing and filming process was - major plot points we see as integral now were made up on the spur of the moment. 'Die Hard' was supposed to be a down and dirty, forgettable cop thriller. They just managed to catch lightning in a bottle and came up with something that became beloved. For that reason, I don't think it would be considered prestige at all.

 

Of course, with ALL of that said, the studios also thought that 'Casablanca' stunk too. So maybe the theory is flawed.

This is crazy to hear about the script. Not that the movie wasn't expected to be a hit but that it was written on the fly. It's such a tight script. There's hardly a line that doesn't develop character, lead to a plot point, or payoff some previous line. Maybe you don't need every line or every scene, but you can't remove one without needing to remove another somewhere.

 

Every time I watch Die Hard, I think about the script and try to find scenes that aren't necessary. I think the last time I was thinking "you know, all this stuff with the newscaster is nice, but is it necessary?" Then comes the scene where Holly sees her kids on tv which lets Hans know she's John McLane's wife. So, yes, we needed the scene with the reporter arguing with the anchor to make him go out the interview the kids.

 

Regarding Casablanca, there's a story that supposedly someone shopped the script around in the 1980s under its original name. It was turned down by all the studios for various reasons saying it wasn't good enough.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

This is crazy to hear about the script. Not that the movie wasn't expected to be a hit but that it was written on the fly. It's such a tight script. There's hardly a line that doesn't develop character, lead to a plot point, or payoff some previous line. Maybe you don't need every line or every scene, but you can't remove one without needing to remove another somewhere.

 

Every time I watch Die Hard, I think about the script and try to find scenes that aren't necessary. I think the last time I was thinking "you know, all this stuff with the newscaster is nice, but is it necessary?" Then comes the scene where Holly sees her kids on tv which lets Hans know she's John McLane's wife. So, yes, we needed the scene with the reporter arguing with the anchor to make him go out the interview the kids.

 

I'd strongly recommend the 'I Was There Too' episode: it's really informative. Things like the scene where Hans speaks to McLane in his American accent - that was an improv moment from the writer to cover a continuity issue that was going to come with being able to identify the terrorists by their wristwatches, something that fell between the cracks in shooting. Apparently it's a film that really came together in the edit.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

As we’re all showing I Was There Too love, Paul’s Meet Dave episode really is fantastic. And I’m not just saying that because he co-hosts Unspooled.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

As we’re all showing I Was There Too love, Paul’s Meet Dave episode really is fantastic. And I’m not just saying that because he co-hosts Unspooled.

That episode of IWTT with Paul was my introduction to HDTGM! That's a case of the plugs section really paying off. I also discovered PFT through his 'There Will Be Blood' episode of IWTT too (yes, I know, I'm a very late adopter). Such a great podcast, although I'm finding it slightly less charming nowadays because Matt is booking higher and higher profile guests. I loved the earlier ones interviewing non-actors and extras (like the 'Speed' one), but I'm still a loyal listener even as the famous people pile up (last episode interviewed Lisa Simpson!).

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

That episode of IWTT with Paul was my introduction to HDTGM! That's a case of the plugs section really paying off. I also discovered PFT through his 'There Will Be Blood' episode of IWTT too (yes, I know, I'm a very late adopter). Such a great podcast, although I'm finding it slightly less charming nowadays because Matt is booking higher and higher profile guests. I loved the earlier ones interviewing non-actors and extras (like the 'Speed' one), but I'm still a loyal listener even as the famous people pile up (last episode interviewed Lisa Simpson!).

 

If you don't mind me asking, how did you discover IWTT first? It's interesting that you discovered a WolfPop (RIP) show before an EarWolf show.

 

Also, I kind of miss WolfPop. They had some really unique shows at launch. I know some of them (like IWTT and The Canon) are still around, but still...

 

And, not to be a complete shill for Paul, but I particularly miss The Sylvester Stallone Podcast. That show was nothing but 10 minutes of daily joy! Paul even read one of my (non-sanctioned) Audible ad reads in an episode! I'm sure it's still enjoyable if you binge it, but having it unfold everyday was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being a part of the discussion on the forums, too. I think this group would have gotten a kick out of it.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×