The French Connection Blu-ray Review
Two rough-and-tumble NYPD Narcotics detectives named Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso stumbled on a heroin-smuggling ring which spanned the Atlantic and linked the New York Mafia with a French mob operating out of Marsailles. This was a stop on the great heroin pipeline between Turkey, Sicily, Corsica, Continental Europe, and the Big Apple. This discovery was the birth of the understanding that the heroin trade was big international business. Somewhere between 100 – 300 kilos of pure heroin were seized, the ring was smashed, two cops sprung to fame by making the big case. ‘The French Connection’ translated to be a very successful film at domestic box office with $41 million dollar total gross.
Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Cloudy Russo (Roy Schieder) are on the case as their names have been changed from the real life counterparts. Very few movies have attempted to show the methodology and mind-set of Narc detectives without either glamorizing them or apologizing for them; “TFC” does neither. Doyle is a truly disgusting human being, but a [darn] good cop. He has the ego, the spleen, the recklessness, and the obsessive won’t-let-go mentality of a pit bull, which more or less typified the Narcs of the pre-Knapp Commission years. If you want a cop like Doyle off your case, you pretty much have to kill him.
The SIU, an elite branch of the Narcotics Division, was born during this investigation. No police unit in history probably bagged more hard drugs, busted more big-name dealers, or wrought such havoc with the drug trade in the Big Apple. On the other hand, no police unit in history ever broke so many laws doing it.
About seventy detectives served in SIU and of them, more than fifty ended up being indicted, and most went to prison. A number killed themselves. In a moment of true irony, several SIU detectives were fingered in the theft of 300 pounds of heroin from the police evidence lockup. The heroin in question was the evidence seized by Egan and Grosso in the Tuminaro Case. So in the end, it was largely for nothing.
Movie Content: 4/5
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I didn’t expect this print to look somewhat flawed, but it does. In the ‘Color Timing The French Connection’ featurette they try to explain that this film isn’t overpowered by grain and the colors, yet the amounts of grain makes the film look dirty throughout. The grain tends to detract from the action and dialogue scenes in the film. The grain varies from subtle to getting very heavy in others. The color pallet is muted with this film. Referencing back to the ‘Color Timing The French Connection’ featurette, I was rather disappointed with the color timing issues. The problems occurred when the mixing of the Black and white version of the film were mixed with a colored version adding a certain glow to the image.
Print Quality: 3.5/5
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 mix. ‘The French Connection’ is mainly front centered since the original mix was mono. Dialogue is well channeled through the center sounding very crisp. There is also a problem with the track as gunshots, certain sound effects are way to powerful. The music in the clubs just drowns out the soundfield. There isn’t a perfect balance between the dialogue and action sequences.
Audio Quality: 3.5/5
- William Friedkin introduction to The French Connection
- Commentary by William Friedkin
- Commentary by Gene Hackman and Roy Schneider
- Trivia Track
- Isolated Score Track
- Enhanced D-Box
- Deleted Scenes (11:58)
- Anatomy of a Chase (20:53)
- Hackman on Doyle (10:55)
- Friedkin and Grosso Remember the Real French Connection (19:05)
- Scene of the Crime (4:53)
- Color Timing The French Connection (12:58)
- Cop Jazz: The Music of Don Ellis (10:00)
- Rogue Cop: The Noir Connection (13:55)
- BBC Documentary: The Poughkeepsie Shuffle (53:10)
- Making the Connection: The Untold Stories of the French Connection (1 hr)
All the features from the 2-disc special edition DVD have been ported over to this 2-disc Blu-ray edition. All special features are presented in standard definition. I am rather impressed with FOX providing all the special features from the 2-disc DVD.
Special Features: 4.5/5
The Final Word
‘The French Connection’ is a film that was ahead of its time back in 1971. The film is based on real life events that occurred and the adaptation to film is nearly flawless. The film on Blu-ray is a mixed bag with the video and audio, which is a real shame. I also checked out the DVD version after viewing the Blu-ray, and fans will want to pick up the Blu-ray version as it is an upgrade for a price.
Overall Rating: 4/5