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.