The French Connection
A Film by William Friedkin
New Books Network 2023
How much will a viewer tolerate? What if you took away all the quick and easy ways in which movies dole out information? What if you made the hero less-than-wholly-admirable and the villain less-than-wholly-terrible? Would audiences still come along for the ride in that brown Le Mans with Popeye Doyle as he tries to catch the sniper who missed him? William Friedkin bet that they would--and won. Join us for a conversation about The French Connection, the classic 1971 police procedural. Topics include the chase, of course, but also the ways in which Popeye Doyle is not Dirty Harry, how the film’s perfect structure allows the viewers to go through a process along with the detectives, and how Popeye resembles a great literary figure from a novel that also ends in a thrilling chase.
William Friedkin’s memoir, The Friedkin Connection, is an engaging read and includes much about the making of The French Connection. Robin Moore’s original book that inspired the film—which Friedkin claimed to never have finished reading—can be found here.