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Movie Fact #41 - September 27th, 2020


One of the most striking aspects of the 1971 classic The French Connection is the now famous car chase sequence. The chase involves Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Played by Gene Hackman) commandeering a civilian's car (a 1971 Pontiac LeMans) and then frantically chasing an elevated train, on which a hitman is trying to escape.

In a 1972 issue of American Cinematographer magazine, director of photography Owen Roizman wrote some explanation how the most famous shot of the scene, a low-angle point of view shot of the streets racing by, was accomplished. Using a front bumper mount, the camera was undercranked to 18 frames per second to enhance the sense of speed. Another aspects involved stunt drivers who were supposed to barely miss hitting the speeding car. However, due to errors in timing, accidental collisions occurred but director William Friedkin left them in the final film. And finally, to help shape the chase sequence in the editing process, Friedkin said that he used Santana's cover of Fleetwood Mac's song "Black Magic Woman" (Thought the song isn't actually featured in the scene. In using the song, Friedkin commented "it [the chase scene] did have a sort of pre-ordained rhythm to it that came from the music." And now, it's considered one of, if not the greatest chase scene in any film. Stay tuned!

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