The French Connection, which premiered in New York 49 years ago today (October 7), is one of the most realistic police dramas in cinematic history. Directed with a tight hand by William Friedkin (The Exorcist), the film fearlessly shows its lead detective, Detective Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle (Gene Hackman), as both hero and anti-hero. You root for Doyle, but you also cringe when he resorts to illegal and sometimes cruel tactics in his relentless search of a French drug kingpin (Fernando Rey).
On This Day
On October 1, 1968, a low-budget horror film called Night of the Living Dead debuted in the venerable Fulton Theater in Pittsburgh. The theater has since been refurbished (and renamed) to the extent that it barely resembles its early self. But the movie that arguably made it famous retains its core originality and continues to influence low-budget filmmakers, particularly in the horror genre.