The French Connection: Special Edition (1971)

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Released 12-Feb-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-William Friedkin (Director)
Audio Commentary-Gene Hackman (Actor) & Roy Scheider (Actor)
Theatrical Trailer
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Deleted Scenes-7
Featurette-BBC Documentary: The Poughkeepsie Shuffle
Featurette-Making The Connection: The Untold Stories Of The French Conn
Featurette-William Friedkin Discusses Deleted Scenes
Gallery-Behind The Scenes; Unit Photography; Poster
Booklet
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 99:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:03)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By William Friedkin
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Gene Hackman
Fernando Rey
Roy Scheider
Tony Lo Bianco
Marcel Bozzuffi
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music Don Ellis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Czech
Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The French Connection is a classic film dealing with the investigation of drug importers by two obsessive New York cops.

    Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy 'Cloudy' Russo (Roy Scheider) are partners in the New York police department narcotics division. One evening after work they spot an unknown man spending a lot of time and money with a group of known criminals involved in the drug industry. The police decide to find out what is going on and this leads to an extensive operation lasting many months.

    This movie is based on an actual case in New York in the 1960s where drug importers used the same methods portrayed in the film. The police officers who worked on that case, and upon whom the lead roles are based, worked closely with the cast and crew while making this movie. Their input into this film, plus help from numerous other police officers, allowed the director, William Friedkin, to make changes to the original script and produce one of the most realistic police films ever made.

    This film won five Academy Awards in 1971 for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. If you have never seen this film before then now is your chance to take a look at an all-time classic. If you are already a fan of this movie, this feature-packed special edition will surely please you.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is slightly soft throughout but this is due to the original source materials and is not a fault of the transfer. This softness is never distracting to the viewer and, considering the age of the transfer, is quite acceptable. No low-level noise was detected. Many segments during the film are shot at night and in poorly lit environments. This produces some relatively poor shadow detail but this again is attributable to the source material and is not a fault of the transfer.

    As you would expect from a film of this age the colour palette is always muted but this works well with the gritty urban environment.

    No MPEG artefacts were detected at any stage.

    A very small number of aliasing artefacts may be seen. Some examples can be found at 16:10, 16:47 and 77:08. All of these are quite minor.

    A number of tiny film artefacts were detected during the transfer. See 10:59, 11:22, 11:28, 47:07 and 47:20. These are tiny and are unlikely to be spotted by most viewers. Obvious film grain may be seen throughout, but this is only slightly distracting to the viewer and adds to the documentary style of the film.

    Twelve sets of subtitles are included on this disc. I extensively sampled the English stream and found them to be consistently accurate. During a number of short segments in the film where characters are speaking French a set of burned in white English subtitles are displayed. These subtitles are occasionally slightly difficult to read against the background. They are also present on the R1 release of this disc.

    The layer change occurs at 51:03 during a static shot during chapter seventeen and is not disruptive to the viewer. The documentaries on the second disc are placed on separate layers and the layer change is undetectable by the viewer.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    A new Dolby Digital 384 kbps 5.1 mix is provided on this disc.

    The dialogue is always clear and easy to understand at all times.

    No dropouts were detected during the transfer. A problem with audio sync may be seen at 23:32 but this appears to be due to ADR work and is only slightly distracting due to its short duration.

    This was the first score by Don Ellis. While slightly dated, it works well with the on-screen action and the time period portrayed.

    The sound mix is mainly focussed across the front three channels but the surrounds are used extensively during the live club performance and the opening credits.

    The subwoofer channel is used minimally to support the effects and never draws attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Disc 1

Menu

    The animated menus are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 or 1.33:1 depending upon the player setup.

Commentary: William Friedkin (Director)

    During this scene-specific commentary, director William Friedkin discusses the making of this film. He explains how various actors were cast, the re-writes of the script, and how he became involved with the project. He also discusses the stunning car chase and the fact that no sets were used on the film as it was all shot on location. At times there are small gaps in the commentary and during parts he simply explains what we are seeing on screen. Luckily Friedkin includes enough details to keep the listeners' attention and the track will be of interest to most fans.

Commentary: Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider

    This track is actually a combination of two interviews recorded separately by each of the actors. The first segment is provided by Gene Hackman and this runs from the start of the movie to 25:23. The second segment by Roy Scheider starts at the beginning of chapter eighteen at 52:50 and runs until 75:15. During the sections between the interviews the movie's standard audio is provided. Both interviews cover similar ground with the actors discussing how they came to the project, preparing for the role and their experiences making the movie. These interviews do contain some very interesting insights and it is unfortunate that they were unable to record a scene-specific track.

Trailer (2:48)

    This is the theatrical trailer for the film and it is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

Disc 2

Menu

    The animated menus are presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 or 1.33:1 depending upon the player setup.

BBC Documentary: The Poughkeepsie Shuffle (53:39)

    This is an insightful documentary that examines the film and the impact that it had when released. Numerous cast and crew members are interviewed as well as people involved with the actual case the film is based upon. The documentary also examines how the film was made and looks closely at the legendary car chase sequence. This documentary is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. A set of Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish subtitles are provided for this extra.

Making The Connection: The Untold Stories Of The French Connection (56:35)

    This is a documentary by the Fox Movie Channel that was made for the 30th Anniversary of this film. This extra covers similar ground to the BBC documentary with interviews with cast and crew members and people associated with the real case. Despite covering similar material this documentary contains enough new information to keep your attention. This documentary is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and includes a set of Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish subtitles. The documentary is presented at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.80:1 with the opening and closing title sequences presented at 1.33:1. Consequently it is not 16x9 enhanced. A series of short MPEG artefacts may be seen during some interview segments with Sonny Grosso which are moderately distracting.

Featurette: William Friedkin Discusses Deleted Scenes (17:17)

    This is a interview with William Friedkin discussing why he originally filmed these scenes and why he finally decided to delete them from the film. This is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with the deleted scenes presented letterboxed at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. A set of Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish subtitles are provided for this extra.

Deleted Scenes (9:03)

    This is a collection of seven deleted scenes from the film. These are the same scenes that are presented in the featurette. These scenes are presented with the original production audio at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 in a full frame transfer.

Stills Gallery

    This is a collection of still shots from the movie and include 110 black and white behind the scenes shots, 15 colour stills and a image of the movie poster.

Trailer (2:48)

    This is the same theatrical trailer found on the first disc presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced.

Booklet

    This booklet contains five pages of production notes and details regarding the film as well as a chapter listing. The notes in this booklet are quite interesting and are a welcome addition.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    As the only real difference between both versions is the inclusion of a new Dolby Digital 2.0 surround mix and a trailer for French Connection II, I would have no preference for either version.

Summary

    The French Connection is a classic film that is still one of the most realistic police movies ever made.

    The video transfer is excellent quality and is stunning considering the age and quality of the original source materials.

    The remixed 5.1 track is tightly focused across the front three channels and makes limited use of the surrounds. This keeps the mix quite close to the original and does not distract from the film at any stage.

    An extensive collection of extras provides some excellent insight into the making of this film and should appeal to all fans of the movie.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Friday, February 22, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R1 has a better transfer/ R4 suffers from contrast-boosting... -