Thursday, April 3, 2008

The French Connections

[I guess I should mention that in this post I talk about the endings of The French Connection 1 & 2, so if you don't want them ruined for you, don't read on.]

Maybe it is just because I wasn't around when the films came out, but I don't know of many sequels to Academy Award winning films that is so buried and ignored as The French Connection 2. I've seen the first film five or six times and it has (among other things) the best car chase scene ever...see for yourself:

Technically speaking, it really isn't a car chase is it?...The best train chase ever...

But I digress, the mere existence of the FC2 was something I didn't know about until a few weeks ago and I was a little scared at the idea there was more to the story because in my mind, the first movie ends perfectly...which by that I mean the viewer has four different ways to interpret it:

1. Popeye Doyle kills "Beard-O" [the name I've given the antagonist]
2. Beard-O shoots Doyle
3. Doyle shoots his gun in anger
4. Doyle kills himself after shooting Office Mulderig.

This moment of uncertainty is ended with a Dragnet-style rundown of who got how much time in prison and the fate of our two heroes is revealed.

Now on to FC2, or as I call it "Popeye Doyle's European Vacation." Doyle heads to France to catch Beard-O and as he says at one point "hit him in the stomach so hard it breaks his spine." Unfortunately, there is no sign of the late Roy Scheider who played good-cop to Gene Hackman's bad cop. The film ends satisfyingly with Beard-O getting what's coming to him.

The soundtrack to both French Connections was done by jazz composer Don Ellis. Both soundtracks are currently not available on CD, so I have been trolling the local record stores for a copy but no luck so far...iTunes does have one track from a collection of songs from Academy Award winning films by an orchestra called L'Orchestra Cinematique.

L'Orchestra Cinematique -- The French Connection
From the 50 Years of Academy Award Winners collection.