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Taking home the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Screenplay, THE FRENCH CONNECTION ($35) is one of the most iconic crime dramas to ever be produced. Adapted from real life events, and shot documentary style by director William Friedkin, THE FRENCH CONNECTION tells the story of the smuggling of narcotics between Marseilles, France and New York City and the two detectives that catch wind of the impending shipment. THE FRENCH CONNECTION stars Oscar winner Gene Hackman as New York City police detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle and Oscar Nominee Roy Scheider as his partner Buddy 'Cloudy' Russo. Fernando Rey is the French heroin smuggler Alain Charnier, who masterminds the deal, while Tony Lo Bianco is the middleman Sal Boca, who falls under the scrutiny of Doyle and Russo. Much of THE FRENCH CONNECTION is a gritty, noir-ish police procedural, but the thing most people remember about the film is the car chase underneath the elevated train tracks. Look for Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso, the real life counterparts to Doyle and Russo, to make appearances in the film.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE FRENCH CONNECTION available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation accurately reflects what director William Friedkin wants the film to look like and I am not about to argue with the intentions of the Academy Award winning director. That said, some folks will definitely be put off by this presentation. Image sharpness and detail are really quite good, but with his overall approach to the filmís updated look, Friedkin has opted for a muted color scheme that slightly smears the hues and gives the presentation a slightly "colorized" appearance. In the context of Friedkinís documentary style, this look is really complements THE FRENCH CONNECTION and found myself liking most of the time. Blacks appear accurate, as do the whites. Contrast is very good, while shadow detail appears fine. The elements from which THE FRENCH CONNECTION has been mastered are very clean. Grain is abundant in varying places during the presentation, but usually seem correct and very film like.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The new sound mix effectively places sound effects into the outlying channels giving a good sense of directionality. Fidelity is good, but the lossless encode doesnít help Don Ellisís music become any less jarring- the opening moments of the film had me reaching for my remote control to find a comfortable volume level. Dialogue is well reproduced and maintains good intelligibility. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as is an English Monaural track. Subtitles are available in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Starting things off is an Introduction by director William Friedkin. Disc one also features two running Audio Commentary tracks. Director William Friedkin is present on the first track, while actors Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider provide their comments on the second track. A Trivia Track and Isolated Score close out disc one.

Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. Eight Deleted Scenes with comments from director William Friedkin are presented in HD. HD Featurettes include the following programs: Anatomy Of A Chase, Gene Hackman On Popeye Doyle, Friedkin And Grosso Remember The Real French Connection, Scene Of The Crime, Color Timing The French Connection, Cop Jazz-The Music Of Don Ellis and Rogue Cop-The Noir Connection. The BBC Documentary: The Poughkeepsie Shuffle and Making The Connection: The Untold Stories Of The French Connection close out the supplements.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION is a tremendous film that has lost nothing to time. The Blu-ray presentation represents exactly how director William Friedkin wants the film to look and is generally excellent in that regard. Again, some folks will definitely have issues with the presentation. Highly recommended.



The French Connection [Blu-ray] (1971)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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