Revisiting the True Crime Roots of “The French Connection”

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By Tobias Carroll It’s now been 50 years since William Friedkin’s The French Connection first hit theaters. And it’s a testament to its staying power that it’s still prompting debate — particularly its central character, “Popeye” Doyle, memorably played by Gene Hackman. Doyle is, in many ways, a terrible person — and yet he’s also a fascinating and contradictory character to watch on screen. But the presence of an antihero wasn’t the only aspect in which the film feels ahead of its time. The film was also based on a work of nonfiction) focusing on a 1962 effort to combat drug smuggling into Ne…

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