THE PLOT THUS FAR
A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
The Tuminaro Case. That is what the law enforcement community calls “the French Connection” case of 1968. Two rough-and-tumble NYPD Narcotics detectives named Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso stumbled on a heroin-smuggling ring which spanned the Atlantic and linked the New York Mafia with a French mob operating out of Marsailles, which, if you are not familiar with it, is a great port city in the Mediterranean famous for, among other things, being a stop on the great heroin pipeline between Turkey, Siciily, Corsica, Continental Europe, and the Big Apple. This discovery was the birth of the understanding that the heroin trade was big international business, being conducted on a breathtaking scale, and the efforts of local cops and a few federal agents to stop it by busting junkies and street dealers was as ludicrous as handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. In the end, somewhere between 100 – 300 kilos of pure heroin were seized, the ring was smashed, two cops sprung to fame by making the big case, and the soon-to-be legendary NYPD Special Investigations Unit was created. But at what cost, and to what end?
This is what the film version of “The French Connection” examines, changing the names of the players, but leaving the basic facts of the story intact. Very few movies have attempted to show the methodology and mind-set of Narc detectives without either glamorizing them or apologizing for them; “TFC” does neither. Doyle is a truly disgusting human being, but a good cop. He has the ego, the spleen, the recklessness, and the obsessive won’t-let-go mentality of a pit bull, which more or less typefied the Narcs of the pre-Knapp Comission years. If you want a cop like Doyle off your case, you pretty much have to kill him. And if you try, don’t miss.
The SIU, an elite branch of the Narcotics Division, was born during this investigation. No police unit in history probably bagged more hard drugs, busted more big-name dealers, or wrought such havoc with the drug trade in the Big Apple. On the other hand, no police unit in history ever broke so many laws doing it: the tactics used by Doyle and Russo in “TFC” became standard procedure for the SIU: Illegal wiretaps. Shakedowns. Theft of money. Distribution of heroin to informants. Perjury. Extortion. Entrapment. You name it, they did it, and operated with virtually no supervision for about ten years before another famous cop, Bob Leuici, who got his own movie with “Prince of the City” brought down the house by exposing its inherent corruption. About seventy detectives served in SUI and of them, more than fifty ended up being indicted, and most went to prison. A number killed themselves. In a moment of true irony, several SIU detectives were fingered in the theft of 300 pounds of heroin from the police evidence lockup. The heroin in question was the evidence seized by Egan and Grosso in the Tuminaro Case. So in the end, the heroin hit the street anyway.
The Blu-Ray comes with commentaries, isolated score track, trivia track, featurettes and bonus material both new and ported over this release. However, the transfer has been remastered which is what raised a lot of questions with the last Blu-Ray release. The end result is more of Friedkin’s continued tampering with the Oscar nominated cinematography. The DTS-HD 5.1 track and original mono audio still hold up, it’s just that the movie continues to look like it was shot on borrowed equipment from within Friedkin’s colon. Still, it’s a classic and worth a purchase.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!