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Posts Tagged ‘The French Connection’

Marathon Man – Starring Dustin Hoffman & Laurence Olivier

Posted by the editors on Monday, 12 December 2011

Marathon Man (1976)    Directed by John Schlesinger ( Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969), Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), The Day of the Locust (1975)), starring Dustin Hoffman (Midnight Cowboy (1969), Straw Dogs (1971), Straight Time (1978), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Rain Man (1988), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006))Roy Scheider (The French Connection (1971), All That Jazz (1979)) and Laurence Olivier (Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965), Sleuth (1972), The Boys from Brazil (1978), and many, many others, of course).   This classic thriller is distinguished by some very good acting on the part of Hoffman, as Babe Levy, an emotionally confused, guilt-ridden and rather annoying history graduate student, and, of course, Laurence Olivier as Dr. Szell, a politely, coldly demonic ex-Nazi, gem-smuggling sadistic dentist.  Roy Scheider, as  Hoffman’s brother Doc, secretly an agent for a clandestine government agency, is really quite good, as well.  Marathon Man is also characterised by an effective use of place: New York, Paris, and very briefly South America, and a sensitivity to lighting, all of which contribute to an overall atmosphere essential to its success.  The plot is, shall we say, a bit confused, replete with double-crossing, triple-crossing and perhaps even more, and, in the end, Marathon Man may be a bit weak on logic.  But perhaps that’s not really the point, as the tension of scene after scene is more than palpable and the acting so very good. (PR)

See our previous posts on the films Sunday Bloody Sunday directed by John Schlesinger, Straw Dogs and Straight Time starring Dustin Hoffman, and The French Connection with Roy Scheider.

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Get Carter – Starring Michael Caine

Posted by the editors on Sunday, 11 December 2011

Get Carter (1971)(DVD) – Directed by Mike Hodges (Pulp (1972), Croupier (1998), I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003)), starring Michael Caine (The Ipcress File (1965), Alfie (1966), Sleuth (1972), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), The Cider House Rules (1999), Children of Men (2006) and many, many other films) and others.  This excellent and iconic British crime drama in which a London gangster, a magnificent Michael Caine as coldly impassive Jack Carter, investigates his brother’s death, and released in 1971, the same year as The French Connection, another superb example of gritty, bleak and fatalistic neo-realism, is thought to be one of the best British films of all time, and certainly of its genre.  Deceptively simple in its story, and unrelenting in its depiction of virtual soullessness, Get Carter, is full of subtle complications and scathing observations on any number of social issues, from grotesque English class injustice, to hypocritical so-called liberation of women, to the oppressiveness of architecture, just to name a few.  Get Carter is undoubtedly a must-see film (though absolutely not to be confused with the abominable 2001 remake of the same name, starring the dubiously talented Sylvester Stallone).  (PR)  (Note that Caine, as Carter, is reading a Raymond Chandler novel on the train to Newcastle, among other small, sly cinematic inflections.)

See our post on the film I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, also directed by Mike Hodges, starring Clive Owen, and see our post on the excellent film The French Connection, starring Gene Hackman.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray disks.  Have an exceptional personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com:

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French Connection II – Starring Gene Hackman

Posted by the editors on Saturday, 10 December 2011

French Connection II(1975)(DVD)   Directed by John Frankenheimer (Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Seven Days in May (1964), Grand Prix (1966)), starring Gene Hackman (Mississippi Burning (1987), Unforgiven (1992), The Firm (1993)) with Fernando Rey (Tristana (1970), Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)).  While this crime drama may not be up to the level of its predecessor, the enormously successful The French Connection (1971), French Connection II still qualifies as a tense and very good film, largely thanks to dominating presence and inspired acting of Gene Hackman, who portrays the narrow-minded and obsessively determined New York narcotics detective in both films.  Though The French Connection was ostensibly based on fact, and shot in a cold, hostile and decrepit New York City, which in fact was one of the striking screen presences in the film, French Connection II is admittedly purely fictional, and is shot in the French Mediterranean city of Marseilles, home of the dreaded international heroin smuggling organisation, the French Connection.  Marseilles offers an exotic backdrop, a mix of bikini-clad beach-goers and narrow, garbage-strewn ethnic quarters, for Detective Popeye Doyle’s (Hackman) dogged pursuit of French Connection king-pin Alain Charnier, called Frog One, portrayed by Fernando Rey in both films.  With excellent acting by Hackman and some wrenching and wonderfully tense scenes, French Connection II, though perhaps not quite achieving the iconic cinema status of the first film, is nevertheless a great crime drama and, frankly, in itself, a must-see film. (PR) (Pay special attention to the excellent scene between Hackman and Cathleen Nesbitt, as “The Old Lady”.)

See our previous posts on the film The French Connection starring Gene Hackman and on the film Scarecrow, starring Hackman and a very young Al Pacino.

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Scarecrow, starring Al Pacino and Gene Hackman

Posted by the editors on Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Scarecrow (1973)(DVD)  Directed by Jerry Schatzberg (The Panic in Needle Park (1971)), starring Al Pacino (The Panic in Needle Park (1971), The Godfather trilogy (starting in 1972), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Scarface (1983), Angels in America (2003) and many others)Gene Hackman  (Bonnie & Clyde (1967), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Under Fire (1983), Unforgiven (1992), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), and many other films) and others.  This road movie, of two alienated down-and-out buddies, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1973, pairs a full-on Method-Acting Pacino in youthful vigor with the virtually opposing style of a formalist Gene Hackman, shortly after his Oscar, in 1971, as Best Actor in The French Connection.  Reminiscent of the pairing of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy (1969), characters respectively naive and experience-hardened, and in style formalist and Method, the result is an impressive, moving film, and Scarecrow is a must-see for any number of reasons, full of harshness and sensitivity, and sadness at lost hopes. (PR)

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