The French Connection

What's it worth: $27 if you're a fan of the film. $20 if you're just a fan of film
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2001
Run Time: 104 mins.
One Sentence Summary: William Friedkin's 1971 Best Picture winner features some of both Friedkin and Gene Hackman at the top of their game in the film that inspired just about every cop show ever.
Version: Five Star Collection

-Commentary by director William Friedkin
-Scene specific commentary by Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider
-Original Trailer
-"Poughkeepsie Shuffle" BBC Documentary
-"Making the Connection The Untold Stories" documentary
-7 deleted scenes hosted by Friedkin
-Still Gallery
Tech Specs: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1), English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Stereo Surround, French Mono

Choice Scene: Chapter 22, The Chase. With this flick that is all that needs to be said. The Chase.

Sure there are two discs and a ton of extras in this Five Star Collection version of 1971's Best Picture, The French Connection, but the play's the thing. The French Connection changed cop movies and TV shows forever. Director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) brought a documentarian's sensibility to the true story of the biggest drug bust America had ever seen. The movie still holds together. It still feels gritty and urgent. Gene Hackman has never been better and the chase is still one of the greatest scenes of pure cinema ever.

The extras are at best okay and at worst just lame. Like most commentary tracks that are recorded long after the project is over, Friedkin's voice-over basically just narrates the action on the screen and occasionally points out that someone on screen was really involved in the real case or that something happened slightly differently in real life. Between the documentaries and his commentary track Friedkin comes off like a pompous ass but when you're the guy who's made a movie like The French Connection, I guess you can afford to be pompous.

Both documentaries suffer from the same problem. Sonny Grosso (the real cop played by Roy Scheider) spends every second on screen raving about what a great guy Eddie Egan (played by Hackman) was. In contrast, Friedkin spends his time raving about how great and crazy William Friedkin is. He takes credit for the script, the research, the casting, and anything else he thinks someone might praise. Both documentaries hold some vague interest for a fan of the film, but now that I've watched them and the deleted scenes I don't think that the second disc will ever need to go back in my player.

The deleted scenes don't add much but some texture and more texture is not something that The French Connection needs. My main complaint about this set would be that Fox keeps going farther and farther overboard with animated menus. For someone who has never seen the film before they are shown many clips of the movie before they can even chose to "Play Movie" and for someone who has seen it they have to wait for the play option to make itself usable.

Overall it's some okay extras and a great film. Amazon has it for $20 and that's more than worth it for a stripped down trailers and chapters version. So even with the lackluster quality of the extras there is a nugget or two of interest, but once all the extras have been burned off you'll come back to this flick more than enough times to make adding it to your shelf worth it.

Buy it here.

Jordan Rosa


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