Starring: Gene Hackman, Roy Scheider
Director: William Friedkin
Popeye Doyle (Hackman) and his partner Buddy Russo (Scheider) are two New York Narcotics cops on the trail of a big bust, but with a past job that went bad, and little evidence, that have to do everything they can to prove that they can get their guy. A sophisticated French man who to all appearances is innocent.
It’s a great premise, that the two have to prove themselves, and though we know, and they have a great big hunch, that they’re onto something, it’s a race against time to see if they have get the bad guy. It’s a very rough and tumble game of cat and mouse, and the two cops are real tough guys. (Well, Hackman’s odd choice of hat takes a little away from his intimidating look, but you get the idea). It’s a fast paced and interesting film, even after 40 years.
It’s a Must See Film Because: whilst the bad guy is suave and sophisticated, the good cop is pugilistic, bigoted and alcoholic. But you still want him to win. It’s a game of appearances, and though Popeye may be many things, and no one seems to really be behind the duo (even his partner Buddy often seems jaded by him). It makes the stakes that much higher, since he doesn’t inspire confidence, but it also makes it an interesting study in character. This guy is perhaps his own worst enemy, he’s not a nice guy, he may not even be a great cop, but he’s thoroughly interesting, and this time he’s right.
It’s also a film that really captures it’s era. For example, no film no would be so casual about the race relations of the cops to the black community, dropping the N word and repeatedly raiding the same bar to abuse the black patrons. It feels shocking because it’s so casual. Of course, the fashion, the cars, and the whole look and feel of the film are also so very 70’s. It’s a snap shot of New York of another time.
See It If: you like your New York cop movies, this one is suspenseful and clever, with an excellent, famous chase scene that should amuse.