Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Marxist Movie Reviews 06: The French Connection (1971)

Welcome to Marxist Movie Reviews, a series that attempts to look at modern and classic films from the perspective of what they say about society and social conflict. This kind of analysis can provide anyone who enjoys movies with insights into the messages they deliver.

The Basic Plot: New York cop Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) is on the trail of a massive heroin smuggling operation, and will stop at nothing to get the bad guys.

The Best Part(s): Gene Hackman's performance, William Friedkin's directing

Stories about 1960s and '70s New York City cops are legendary, and almost all of them involve corruption and wrongdoing (The Al Pacino film Serpico takes this subject head on). This movie, the first R-Rated film to win an Academy Ward for Best Picture, takes the concept to the extreme by allowing the audience to follow a cop who's so deep into his job he's willing to break any number of rules and procedures to get his man.

Far from being the one to "Protect and Serve," Doyle prowls through the urban jungle like a wildcat, walking over or through anyone in his path, even if they're civilians. ESPECIALLY if they're civilians. The action scenes are exciting, but made me realize that the general public would have been better protected if the cops let the drug dealers go, rather than be subjugated to the violence and corruption involved in the case. In sum, while this movie is at the top of the grime thriller genre that's well worth your time to see, it paints a disturbing picture of law-enforcement agency that's out of control in its methods, and God help any innocent bystanders who happen to get in the way. Parallels to recent real-life events all over the country involving bad cops are inevitable.

My Rating: 8/10 ("Really Liked It")

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