A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1971 – The French Connection
This movie just reeks of the 70s. For some reason, when I want to think of pure “70s” movies, I think of this and The Conversation. Both, coincidentally, starring Gene Hackman.
It’s just a terrific movie. A cop movie, a thriller, a great car chase. This movie has everything. And it won Best Picture, which, looking back, is just crazy. It’s an American classic and all, and it’s an incredible film, and it completely represents what Hollywood was doing at the time, but the idea that a movie like this won Best Picture is both amazing and absolutely ridiculous. Hollywood would never let that happen nowadays. A contemporary thriller winning Best Picture. Never.
This film is so good. Sometimes I forget how good it is, and then I watch it again, and it’s just amazing.
And, before I talk about how awesome this movie is, let’s run down some other potential choices for 1971.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Sorry. Timeless. Not defining of 1971. Also a film that gained a reputation a bit later. Just not as good a choice as The French Connection.
Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? Love this movie, completely represents the 70s, but also really weird and no one remembers it. Might as well stick with the classic choice of The French Connection, as the articles would be similar and they both represent ’71 for similar reasons. Plus, that movie lumps in with about ten others that also represent 1971 but aren’t that memorable compared to some others. So no.
Shaft. Actually a terrific choice. I can dig it.
Last Picture Show. Great movie, not representative of 1971. It kind of is, but it’s also not. Not the choice over The French Connection. Just isn’t. At least for me.
Harold and Maude – ehh.
Dirty Harry – great choice, but French Connection is basically the same thing except has a bunch of Oscars and made more money. Therefore, better choice.
Clockwork Orange. Nope. Too much Kubrick already, plus, again, more timeless than anything. If you didn’t know dates and I told you that movie was made in 1973, 1974 or 1979… you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It would only represent 1971 to people simply because it’s Clockwork Orange. The way people would choose The Shining for 1980. Not the choice. Especially with movies that feel like ’71 on there.
That’s pretty much it.
French Connection is the only choice. It really is.
And the movie is awesome. It’s so good. It’s almost a documentary, the way we follow these cops. It’s awesome. Half the movie is them following these guys around the city and chasing them around. It’s great. Apparently that’s because Friedkin wanted to emulate Z.
And that car chase… holy shit. This chase, to me, is better than the chase in Bullitt. Because this feels like real cars doing real things. And not a movie chase.
In fact, let’s end the article with that. Because that’s why this is here: