Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 No. 3. 15th March 1972
The French Connection
The French Connection
This stylish thriller has topical and 'shocking' connotations with its heavy emphasis on the illicit 'drug' world. The film is also supposed to gain something by the publicity proclaiming it a True Story. However, the sensational subject does not give the film an undue advantage, and it is neither more nor less interesting because of its real-life origins. Basically a thriller, and adhering to many of the conventions of the genre, it is unusual primarily because of its excellence.
First a couple of comments which may not be brick bats as much as reflections on a developing trend. In common with some other recent films, The French Connection has a certain obtuseness in the manner in which the narrative unfolds. Bluntly - unless the viewer is abnormally sharp or blessed with precognition, it may take half an hour or more before he gets a firm grip on what, is actually happening on the screen. (Get Harper is an even more extreme example) This elliptical style of presentation may have its point in films where the singular purpose is to mystify the audience, but in others where the plot is as important as the pyrotechnics, the method may turn out to be self-defeating. The other point concerns the dialogue. Where this is mod, blurred, confused, hesitant, intermingled, it may be necessary in some cases to provide sub-titles for 'foreign' audiences.
The joys of this film are in its relentless pace and bravura acting; topped off with some very tasty lashings of violence. These factors mould perfectly, and with the location settings, lend a nitty-gritty realism to the proceedings. I don't think I have ever seen New York looking so seamy, except perhaps in Midnight Cowboy. Certainly the scenes in the lower tenement areas contrast with the drawing room settings of the criminal conferences. Such 'human diversions' as there are (Popeye's unlikely seduction comes to mind) do not detract from the mementum, as they are of sufficient intrinsic interest to preempt the reaction 'get on with it' (accompanied by a stifled yawn).
The machinations of the plot must be convincing in themselves, and no plea can be entered on their behalf that the incidents portrayed actually took place. In this respect I have one or two quibbles. The reconstruction of the car, for example, grated a trifle, with all due respect to the N.Y.P.D. And I am still chary about accept