Rank on the AFI List: #93
WHAT I ALREADY KNEW ABOUT THE MOVIE:
Only 2 things:
1) It starred Gene Hackman
2) It has a famous car chase scene
LET ME EXPLAIN...
I knew I'd eventually get to a movie on this list that I wouldn't like. I was a bit surprised that it was "The French Connection."
This movie is based on a true story. It's about drug smuggling, but we were more than 30 minutes into the movie before my wife and I figured that out. For the vast majority of the film, the premise seemed to be: Watch detectives tail people and go on stakeouts. Apparently, there's no real need to let the audience know WHY you're tailing people (except for some VERY serendipitious observations in a bar), or WHO the guys are you're following. It felt like the movie just wants the audience to watch cops follow supposed bad guys (sometimes doing so very poorly).
The famous car chase scene was entertaining at least. It was cool to finally see, though it wasn't the type of car chase I was expecting since there was only one car involved. Nevertheless, it was the most entertaining part of the film.
There was another scene I thought was cool, when the cops COMPLETELY strip a car looking for drugs. Unfortunately, the follow-up to that scene was somewhat unbelievable and made the whole scenario less entertaining to me. New York cops are apparently SO good at putting a car they ripped apart back together in 4 hours that the owner of it still thinks it's in perfect condition.
What makes this a "Top 100" Movie?
Good question. Really. I don't know why this is considered such a great movie (it also won 5 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director in 1971, so I must have missed something). It was certainly gritty, I'll give it that. And I could tell the cinematography was somewhat unique. But this film should not be on the AFI list, in my opinion, unless someone can explain to me the reason(s) it's considered one of the best movies ever made.
I'll try to keep these short: the protagonist isn't very likeable; the plot wasn't really explained; there wasn't much of a climax; there wasn't much in the way of character development; it attempted to be more "real" and gritty at the expense of helping the audience follow the story (I think I had more complaints than that, but you get the picture).
LET ME SUM UP...
If you've ever watched Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K), there's one episode where they watch a really bad secret agent movie. There's a critical piece to its lame plot that the audience doesn't realize the main character already knows about until the very end of the movie. Once he explains that he already knew about it, one of the MST3K characters follows up with "I didn't tell the audience because I didn't feel they needed to know." I thought about this line several times while watching "The French Connection". All in all, this movie was less about the actual plot and more about watching detectives follow guys around the city and go on stakeouts. If it wasn't for the car chase scene, I would have given this a lower rating.
MY RATING: 3/10
TOTAL # OF FILMS WATCHED: 57