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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential
The French Connection absolutely re-wrote the book on cop thrillers when it was released in 1971. Its depiction of New York, of crime and of cops was unlike that in any film prior (or in many since). William Friedkin had made a handful of minor films (four, I think) prior to starting pre-production on this. The stories of him and his cast spending time with cops and...
Published 20 months ago by James the King

versus
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stop apologising for bad Blu Ray transfers!
There is one inescapable fact that the apologists for the poor Blu Ray transfer of 'The French Connection' seem determined to ignore. While The Blu Ray of 'The French Connection II' is superior to the DVD release, the Blu Ray of the first movie is noticeably inferior to the DVD release. You'd have to be blind not to notice this.

Friedkin has overly tinkered...
Published on 31 May 2011 by J. Pauley


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Stop apologising for bad Blu Ray transfers!, 31 May 2011
By 
J. Pauley (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
There is one inescapable fact that the apologists for the poor Blu Ray transfer of 'The French Connection' seem determined to ignore. While The Blu Ray of 'The French Connection II' is superior to the DVD release, the Blu Ray of the first movie is noticeably inferior to the DVD release. You'd have to be blind not to notice this.

Friedkin has overly tinkered with the transfer resulting in a distinct change to the colour timing, an overabundance of digital noise and a wiping out of fine detail due to ham-fisted application of Digital Noise Reduction.

A prime example of the latter is a long focus shot down a New York street showing the skyline and apartment building rooftops at the rear of the shot. Far more fine detail is visible in the DVD - in the Blu Ray there has been so much DNR applied that the television aerials have disappeared from the rooftops whereas they are clearly visible on the DVD. I thought one of the ideas behind Blu Ray was greater detail and resolution, not less?

This is not the first back catalogue title that Fox has managed to screw up for Blu Ray, several of which are so bad they are to be replaced with newly remastered versions. Moaning that people are being picky or overly technical is simply not good enough - your moaning should be directed at the studios producing sub-standard product. We also had this debate with the Blu Ray release of 'Gladiator', another DNR disaster, with apologists saying "Stop moaning it's fine!". In the end enough people complained and Universal withdrew the original discs and replaced the release with a brand new transfer that showed the original release up for the botch job that it was.

I'll leave the last word on the 'French Connection' Blu Ray transfer with the man who actually shot the film, cinematographer Owen Roizman...

"Billy [Friedkin] for some reason decided to do this on his own. I wasn't consulted. I was appalled by it. I don't know what Billy was thinking. It's not the film that I shot, and I certainly want to to wash my hands of having had anything to do with this transfer, which I feel is atrocious."

He later called it an "emasculated" and "horrifying" transfer, and said "it would be a travesty to see The Exorcist [which Roizman also shot] transferred in this fashion."

Following this controversy, Warner Brothers removed supervision of the Blu Ray transfer of "The Exorcist" from Friedkin's control and handed the reins over to Roizman.

Be patient - the controversy over this title has really hit sales in the USA. Fox will eventually replace it with a new release as they are in the process of doing with other problematic Blu Ray transfers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, 3 Jun. 2013
By 
James the King (...under the stairs) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
The French Connection absolutely re-wrote the book on cop thrillers when it was released in 1971. Its depiction of New York, of crime and of cops was unlike that in any film prior (or in many since). William Friedkin had made a handful of minor films (four, I think) prior to starting pre-production on this. The stories of him and his cast spending time with cops and junkies have now passed into film legend. This kind of attention to authenticity may be fairly common now, but in 1971 it was almost unheard of. With the possible exception of Bullitt (also produced by Philip D'Antoni), cop movies were essentially about thrills and fun, not about real police work.

New York is portrayed as a living hell. No other film had ever been so unforgiving in its choice of locations or its tone. The violence was disturbingly explicit, following in the footsteps of The Wild Bunch in throwing the book of Hollywood acceptability out of the window. As for the infamous character of Jimmy Doyle, this was the first time a cop was seen as a truly flawed human being. Doyle isn't interested in justice, he's more committed to being right and proving it. He's racist, violent and generally pretty unlikeable. Definitely not your average movie cop, or your average cop movie. I won't rehash the plot here, as this film is more about its characters and its environment. The pace is deliberately restrained, so don't come into this expecting wall-to-wall action, but you can look forward to one of the greatest chase sequences ever committed to celluloid.

French Connection II is a mixed success. It kills the ambiguity of the first film's final moments and sees Doyle relocated to Marseilles in pursuit of "Frog 1". The absence of Friedkin could have sunk the ship entirely, but replace his grim realism with John Frankenheimer's trademark paranoia and the shift in tone actually works rather well. Again, the film is surprisingly dark and graphic for its time, with a dedicated but unpreachy focus on the perils of drug use. The film's final act is punctuated by some excellently handled action sequences which genuinely serve the story at the same time as being exhilarating entertainment. The deeper insight into Doyle manages to enhance the character without overegging the pudding and the film's ending is just about as perfect a summation of Doyle as one can imagine. While it's not up there with its predecessor, FC2 is certainly echelons above most of the cop genre films which came flooding out of Hollywood in the `70s.

The blu ray discs themselves are excellent. The picture quality on the first film - which seems to be the focus of almost every review here - is quite deliberately very grainy and washed out. The fact that Friedkin revisited the colour timing to make the film look "as he always wanted it to" was met with outrage by some fans (as well as the film's cinematographer), but film purists will appreciate the authentic look of the presentation, though it would be nice to see an alternative closer to the original look. FC2 is far easier on the eye; its transfer is up there with the best blu ray upgrades of `70s films. Sound quality is good on both discs and the extras are plentiful, the pièce de résistance (pardon the pun) being an isolated score on the first film, as Don Ellis' wonderful and evocative soundtrack is long out of print.

Very highly recommended for fans and newcomers alike. Just don't complain about the video transfer.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Warning - Do not buy this product, 29 Nov. 2011
By 
J. A. Sellin (Port Kembla, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
The transfer to Blu-ray of this otherwise excellent movie, is spoilt by the woeful quality in the transfer. I already had both movies on DVD, bought when they were first released. The DVD transfer is vastly superior in quality to the Blue-ray version. Take my advice and buy the films on DVD instead.

J A Sellin, Port Kembla, New South Wales
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blu ray is much better than advertised., 7 May 2014
This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
FC1 is one of the greatest films of all time and came during a period when Hollywood's output probably peaked (the 70s). The two disc, 5-star US collectors release was the first DVD I ever bought about 15 years ago and I still watch it regularly. I also hate it when directors tinker with their releases: the blu ray of The Warriors is almost unwatchable now that Walter Hill has ruined it with terrible comic interludes.

So I was concerned about all the criticisms of the blu ray. Having finally bought it, I have to say the carping is - almost - much ado about nothing and is definitely out-weighed by the increase in sharpness.

The images do at times look too washed out, I will admit that. The scene where Doyle drives over Brooklyn bridge following and eventually losing Sal Boca is very washed out with the colours of the NYC skyline drained. The exterior of Sal's cafe is also too drained and loses too much of the green and red colouring in the store front. The worst scene for me was probably the sequence in Washington DC - this was really pale and washed out and really lacked punch. It was unnecessary and looked like an accident.

In other places, I thought the colder palette worked - when Doyle is waiting outside the NYC restaurant while Charnier and Frog2 eat a three-course meal, the exterior is a much colder blue than before compared to the interior. But this works - it highlights that Doyle is staking out Charnier in the cold while the French enjoy haute cuisine. So at times it works.

But leaving the issue of colour aside, people who say the blu ray is inferior to the DVD are well wide of the mark. From the outset, the blu ray is sharper (taking account of the generally very grainy and night lit nature of the film). The scenes in Marseilles are much sharper and punchier, close ups of Charnier reveal the texture in his beard, you can clearly read the Hot Dog lettering on Sonny's hot dog stall at the start, you can read the slogan on the Canada Dry dispenser in the Narcotics Bureau HQ etc. The best example comes at the end of the famous chase sequence. When Frog 2 tumbles down the steps to the feet of Doyle, there is a sign above the gantry: the smaller wording is hard to decipher on the DVD; on the blu ray version, the entire signage is legible. Small points that don't add much to the film, but there is no question the blu ray is the sharper of the two films.

I thoroughly enjoyed the blu ray version of FC1, particularly the added sharpness, which made it more enjoyable than the DVD. The washed-out colour palette was a little jarring in a few places, but overall did not detract from the viewing experience. I think some people have gone overboard saying this is the worst transfer ever.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst Blu-Ray Transfer of all time!, 8 Jan. 2012
This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
Not much to say about this one!
1) The worst ever transfer of any Movie to Blu-Ray today!
2) Waste of money when the VHS version looks better!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars BEYOND APPALLING, 30 Oct. 2012
By 
Mike Jefferies (Beverly Hills, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
I thought it must just be my copy until I checked on here. If I knew who to write to, and send this "blu ray" back, I would, and ask for a refund. I own hundreds of BR's and this is by far the worst. Platoon is pretty bad, but this is just jaw drop shocking.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Blu Ray? Stop kidding!, 24 July 2009
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This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
I paid nearly £30 for this alleged Blu-ray product. I've just watched the original movie and was appalled at the terrible picture quality. In the darker scenes it is difficult to make out any detail. It appears to me that the boffins have applied some sharpening program to the movie, but mostly it has resulted in creating a snowy effect to most scenes. This has been a lesson to me to be wary of Blu-ray versions of old movies. I haven't yet viewed the French Connection 2 but will review in due course.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The battle of man vs frog, 23 Sept. 2011
By 
Inspector Gadget "Go Go Gadget Reviews" (On the trail of Doctor Claw) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
Until this The French Connection was released the maximum amount of insight the average joe had into police procedure were the straight-laced, no-nonsense cop shows such as Dragnet. Cops were heroes, the robbers were villains. The French Connection blurred the line, and set a standard for police drama that influenced a generation of imitators that has lasted until this very day with whatever latest incarnation of Law & Order.

Gene Hackman (who had mostly been a second banana until this film) plays Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle, an otherwise good cop who's relentless pursuit of the bad guys inevitably ends in disaster. His wildly unorthodox methods have left him alienated among his peers with only his partner Buddy Russo (that would be Roy Scheider) remaining loyal to him. He happens upon a conspiracy involving small-time local hoods making drug-dealing connections with a French crime boss but virtually no one believes that the deal is going down, and soon.

William Friedkin really captures the filthy, grotty, ugly front of the old New York. Before the clean-up of the streets in the 80s it was certainly a grim, hostile place and the French Connection doesn't play it down one iota. Set during Xmas (though far from being an Xmas film), Friedkin draws an unfair line between Doyle freezing in the street, watching Charnier ('Frog 1') dining in the finest restaurants. Charnier even lives in a lovely waterfront mansion in Marseilles while Doyle is stuck living in the Marlborough Projects. It surprises me little that so many cops were on the take back in the day. But Doyle is honest, believing that dedicating himself to the pursuit of villains will make a difference.

That's where he's wrong!

It's bleak, it's a downer, but there is plenty of intrigue and a brilliant car chase (done back in the days when everything was REAL before the camera and not CGI) that is edited to perfection. The film won 5 Oscars, including Best Picture and is a fine example of the gritty 70s edge that modern equivalents are the worse without.

In the vastly underrated sequel (the first true Hollywood '2') Popeye travels to (more like discarded to) Marseilles after his crushing defeat at the end of the first film. The recovered heroin was stolen right out of the police evidence and made it to the street regardless, lining the pockets of Popeye's crooked colleagues. That's the price you pay for being honest.

The French don't want him and make no attempts to hide their discourteousness as Popeye hits the streets, desperately looking for the elusive 'Frog 1'. His tough-guy schtick may have worked in the Big Apple but in France he's hopelessly incompetent and way out of his depth. Calling him a fish out of water is to put it lightly.

Instead of being a carbon copy of the original, FCII takes a radical turn in the second act as Charnier captures Popeye and turns him into a junkie, the thing he hates even more than criminals. Near-death, and humiliated by Charnier even further, Popeye undergoes a harrowing withdrawal, going cold turkey in a French police cell while his partner looks after him (there ain't no gratitude though). Barely waiting two seconds to regain his strength, the hunt is back on to finally get revenge on Charnier.

John Frankenheimer's take on the story is much slower and drama-orientated than the quick, raw energy of the first. Going deeper into Popeye Doyle's unstable, edgy personality makes it more of a character study and a bit of an epic when compared to what William Friedkin gave us.

The ending may be as abrupt as the first, but it wastes no time in winding down the story. FCII might have the best, sudden climax of any movie ever made.

Don't misjudge it as a 'same again' sequel, it's very different and is brave enough to take the character and story is a bold direction. Frankenheimer's career was full of underrated efforts, but FCII is the best of them.

There has been a lot of controversy over the picture quality of the Blu Ray release. Friedkin has apparently changed the color-timing of the first movie in order to make it look warmer, claiming 'it's how I always wanted it to look'. The cinematographer called this transfer 'an abomination' and fans of the film have been vocal in their disappointment. There are rumors that Friedkin remastered the film and screened it digitally WITHOUT the changes and only when it hit BD did Fox tamper with it without his knowledge. Either way, it has not been corrected. As a result, Frankenheimer's FCII is the best-looking of the two. Both movies are in 1080p 1.85:1 with DTS HD-MA 5.1 and have plenty of extras. Despite the controversy, it's a BD package worth buying.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Onez best., 25 July 2013
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This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
To have two in the same package is wonderfull,and at leased we can all see.. a beginning a middle and an end to a masterpeice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great classic films from the 70's, 17 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: The French Connection & French Connection II [Blu-ray] [1971] (Blu-ray)
I love both films, love Gene Hackman and would recommend it to all who love films set in real locations.
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