The French Connection
The original 1971 with Gene Hackman. Yes, the car chase is brilliant, from what I have read, it was more or less done for real, using a police car with the lights flashing- not something you could do today.
It is the look and style of the movie that we admire. From the basics, that primitive 70s film stock which gives the movie an analogue feel that one doesn’t get today with hi-definition cinematography. That gritty feel, unintentional at the time, works perfectly with the other grit: the city of New York in 1970. It was a messy, tough, yet incredibly stylish place.
That language that Popeye uses, it’s brilliant. Where exactly did they come up with that dialogue about picking toes in Poughkeepsie? Was that normal interrogation back then?
The French Connection was made at the start of what some think was the pinnacle of cinema- the 1970s. It was an era of the singular visions of the directors and producers. There was no big data, no Netflix algorithms.
We are being told that we are living in the golden age of TV. Maybe we are. But there is something about the data informed serialization model currently being used that makes the products feel somewhat predictable. Which is perhaps what one wants in a TV show- something to temporarily hijack our attention, and help us to turn off our brains.
This is a very different ambition than with movies like The French Connection. Yes, it was still the entertainment business, but it seemed to aim higher. Or maybe it didn’t. Maybe this just a normal nostalgic response to an earlier time that we are conditioned to feel was better. Was there anything about life in New York City in 1970 that was really that much better than now?
Maybe it’s just style, and maybe that’s enough.