Friday, April 7, 2017

A to Z Challenge - F is for Follow That Train

Continuing the A to Z challenge of Academy Awarding winning and nominated films for day six is The French Connection.  An amazing cops and robbers film that won Best Picture and a bunch of others including Actor, Director, Editing and Adapted Screenplay.  And it was the first rated R film to win Best Picture seeing how they had just created the rating system a few years earlier.

This film is a typical classic great drama of the 1970's.  A gritty film with violence and police officers who will do whatever it takes even if they are wrong and don't always succeed.  Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider are two NYPD detectives who find out about a major heroin shipment coming to the US. They end up having to deal with Fernando Rey the smuggler who is always a step ahead of them.

Beside this being one of the greatest action/adventure films made, this movie is representative of the time and the style of movie making that was becoming the norm in Hollywood.  In fact 1971 was an interesting year for the Best Picture category.  It had movies that represented the past, the present and the future.

Fiddler on the Roof was a throwback to all the great musicals that were nominated and won during the 1950's and 1960's.  Nicholas and Alexandra was a throwback to the great epics from the 1950's and 1960's.  A Clockwork Orange and The French Connection were early 1970 style movies.  And The Last Picture Show was years ahead of its time, it is what we now consider an independent film.

That is why this year was a major focal point for Hollywood.  Years earlier the code was abandoned. Films started to go to extremes with language, sex and violence because they could.  But things settled and really good movies started to show up.  This is the point where you can start to see that.  It's a great movie to watch to see the character development, the great acting and the crazy action.  Or just watch the clip below and see the car chase which is the scene everyone always talks about.

The first time I made my wife watch this scene I told her this is how I drive to work in the morning before she had seen it.  Well, I still find it funny.  Interesting trivia, the car crash at about 2:41 in the clip was a real car accident.  Someone in the neighborhood didn't get the notice or ignored it and crashed into the car.  It looked great and since the car could still drive, they kept it in the movie.


  1. Loved Fiddler on the Roof and Nicholas and Alexandra.

    1. So do I, they are both fantastic films and worth of best picture recognition. I find it fascinating that 1971 became a crossroads of Hollywood, of where it was, where it is now and where it would go later on.

  2. Great film with Hackman, and I really enjoyed your writing about the changes occurring in Hollywood at that time.

  3. I didn't know that about the car crash. This is yet another gritty drama from the early 70's. Actually the 70's seems to represent many gritty films that would be "prettied-up" today. Thankfully the Hays Office was, for the most part, gone. The horrible "The Moon is Blue" is the first to openly defy that Hays code. For Drama, the 1950's had many films that came from the stage like Marty or requin for a Heavyweight. The 60's had cold war (not James Bond) films along with the Kitchen Sink films. Loving what you have written and I am going backwards:)