Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider play it hard and fast in the Oscar-winning thriller, "The French Connection", now released on a DVD that deserves an award of its own.
Picture: The documentary style used for the movie does result in the odd grainy frame, but the quality of the transfer is excellent with strong colours and a fresh veneer.
Sound: Wow, does this 5.1 mix thrill! The opening title music hits you hard, with superb use of the subwoofer driving you straight into the excitement. Good attention has been put into creating busy street effects for the surrounds too.
DISC ONE SPECIAL FEATURES
Audio Commentary One: Director William Friedkin is good value for money on audio commentaries. He describes his aim to create "an impression" of the famous case the movie is based upon. He agreed to do the film knowing full well that he would not be able to make it for the $1.5m budget. It ended up $350,000 over, but it was still a tight accomplishment, with camera operators using wheelchairs instead of dolly tracks.
Audio Commentary Two: This track contains input from Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider. Roy talks from chapter 18 onwards, with Gene filling most of the film before that. For Hackman, he's in no doubt as to the impact this film had on his career, and didn't expect to get the role - a view shared by his agent at the time. Scheider kicks off with a hilarious story about him getting cast in the movie, which involved him storming out of the audition - a move that won him the part.
DISC TWO SPECIAL FEATURES
Deleted Scenes: You can either pick and choose out of seven deleted scenes to watch alone, or you can opt for Freidkin's introductions. They make a lot more sense with Freidkin's input, and he explains the motivations behind a somewhat frightening whipping scene that was removed for its brutality.
The Poughkeepsie Shuffle: If you haven't seen this recent BBC documentary, then here's the chance to catch it. 50 minutes long and presented by Mark Kermode, it features interviews and dissections of key scenes including that incredible car chase which was done in real traffic. Freidkin dismisses the book that came out before the movie as "thick-headed" and claims that he could only read a few pages of before giving up on it, subsequently not basing the film on it.
The Untold Stories of "The French Connection": After the immaculate presentation of the previous documentary, you may assume from the cheesy titles of this hour-long US effort that it's a pale imitation. Don't be fooled, for this feature takes you onto actual locations used while weaving in interviews where appropriate. Former cop of the real case, Sonny Grosso, is our host in what often comes across as The Sopranos played for real. He takes great delight in describing how Hackman was initially not hard enough for the part and lacked the steel to really get into the physical aspects of the role. That, of course, was only to begin with.
Additional Extras: Stills galleries: behind-the-scenes, unit photography, and poster. Theatrical trailer.
DISC THREE SPECIAL FEATURES: Contains "French Connection II" and a whole load more extra features - see review for full list.
Region: 2 and 4
Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Technical Features: Scene selection, animated menus, multiple language subtitles, and English captions for the hearing impaired.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.