Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ten Statements About....FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975)

This fate is worse than any execution you can imagine.
"I’ve been a New York City cop for 14 years.  I know the dope that comes out of this city has killed a lot more than I have."

1) Gene Hackman could never be a movie star, let alone an action star, today.  Never mind that he submerges himself in Popeye Doyle completely and never allows his real actor-ly persona to break through, Hollywood would have no use for him.

The same goes for John Frankenheimer and his direction.

2) Only in 70‘s do you get a fight scene that is not smooth and full of shakey cam, but ungainly, awkward and exhausting.

3) I’m still puzzled by the whole point of Ed Lauter’s general.  Yeah, I guess it’s Frankenheimer’s way of
"Nyah, I have no idea what I'm doing here, either."
hinting that the American government has a hand in Charnier’s operation, but that character could be removed whole and not affect the film in any way.  It’s a weird bit that is never followed up.

4) It’s typical of 70‘s cinema in general and Frankenheimer specifically that Charnier’s discovery of Doyle’s presence is purely by accident.  And his seeing Doyle watching a volley ball match leads us into the film’s biggest and most harrowing set piece.

5) I do appreciate the fact that while Doyle and Bernard Fresson’s Barthélémy gain respect for each other after the French cop forcibly detoxes Doyle, there’s a sense they still don’t like each other--witness how Doyle continues to call Barthélémy ‘asshole’ long after the man literally saves his life.

6) Reason Editing Can Do Amazing Things #684: It’s obvious by the establishing long shot of the drydock in one of the major action sequences that it has only two gates...and yet, through judicious use of different angles and a number of tin plates with different numbers on them, Frankenheimer is able to make it seem like the place is ringed with gates, and Doyle and Barthélémy are going to drown in minutes if they stay within.
Yep...nothing says maverick cop like a Hawaiian shirt...

7) I appreciate, especially in this day and age where every single film is afraid of making people think they don’t understand what’s going on, how Frankenheimer refuses to give the French people Doyle encounters subtitles.  This emphasizes Doyle’s feeling of being a fish out of water (a concept brought home in the film’s early scenes by Doyle finding an April Fool’s Fish taped to his taxi) in a foreign land.

8) I get that the cable car chase is a parallel to the subway chase in the original; it just doesn’t feel as frenetic, and appears to be there for no reason other than to remind us how good the first one was.

9)  Cathleen Nesbitt’s brief role, named ‘The Old Lady’ in the credits, shows Frankenheimer’s way with actors.  At first introduced as a harmless woman who witnesses what Charnier is doing to Doyle, we see her true nature when she appears to comfort him...and we realize she’s a junkie looking to steal Doyle’s watch.

10) It’s a telling fact that Charnier’s evil revenge on Doyle would have gone on forever if Barthélémy’s attempts to find the cop resulted in too much attention being drawn to the drug operation. excellent film that is as good as the original, this shows how Frankenheimer’s talent can make a sequel work as something other than a money grab.

No comments:

Post a Comment