I'm skipping ahead a little in my movie list today to spotlight the films I watched in November that featured Gene Hackman, the actor I saw more than any other last month. I think I've said before that Hackman was one of the actors I hated as a kid, probably because of Superman. But Royal Tanenbaums turned me around, and now I seek him out. He rarely disappoints.
201. (508.) The French Connection (1971)
I've been on the lookout for this famous film for years, and I have to say that the wait was worth it. The subway chase scene is deserving of its reputation, the procedural aspects are engrossing, and the ending is perfectly fitting and memorable. One thing I know for sure is that I never want to live in 1970s New York City.
202. (509.) The Conversation (1974)
This is a character study of an ethical man who begins to suspect that he has been an instrument to murder. I was really enjoying it until the character's loneliness leads him to make a few terrible mistakes about mid-movie, and then I found it nearly excruciating to see him pay for that breach of trust through to the end of the film (the end of his sanity?). It wasn't what I was expecting, and I find those movies to typically be the movies that stick with me.
204. (511.) French Connection II (1975)
I described French Connection to a friend as "watching Gene Hackman walk around a dirty New York City for an hour." He told me I didn't need to see the sequel. "It's watching Gene Hackman walk around dirty France for two hours." That's an apt description. In typical sequel fashion, it's more of the same, maybe more action, less procedural. Sadly, it takes twice as long to get to the action as the original — the ball doesn't really get rolling until 4/5 of the way through the movie! Not a bad movie, but nowhere near as good as the original.
I'd recommend all three movies.