Tag Archives: Roy Scheider

Pauline Kael on New York in the Movies, 1971

21 Apr

Pauline Kael was the chief film critic for The New Yorker for several decades and most of her reviews were collected every few years in published volumes. I pulled the fourth collection, Deeper Into Movies, off the shelf recently and re-read “Urban Gothic,” dated October 30, 1971, Kael’s review of THE FRENCH CONNECTION, the New York City police thriller directed by William Friedkin and starring Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider that went on to win the Best Picture Oscar for that year. Kael’s first two paragraphs of the review, pasted below, offer a spot-on assessment of how New York movies of that time created “a permanent record of the city in breakdown.” As someone who lived through that era and had good times and bad times associated with it, I am always awe-struck at how accurate these films were in capturing the look, feel, mood and sound of New York, or “Horror City,” as she calls it, in those years. However, she goes a little overboard in her paragraph describing the audiences at these films, particularly in Times Square and Greenwich Village, and may be exaggerating the depth and intensity of audience reaction and participation, but at least she was there to observe it. I was, too, and I do remember an occasional fight breaking out, but the audience was generally way more focused on the screen than on each other, although I may not have gone to the same theaters or late-night screenings that Kael did. Still, her vivid portrait of New York moviegoing offers a fitting counterpart to the nervous, jangling energy of the New York movies onscreen.

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Revisiting THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)

24 May

I recently picked up a used 2-disc set containing THE FRENCH CONNECTION and various extras, including two documentaries on the film, deleted scenes, and separate audio commentaries by stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider and director William Friedkin. First, I re-watched the film for the first time since seeing it on cable sometime in the 1990s. I then went through all the extras. But before I get to my reevaluation, a little history is in order.

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