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Jan Klimkowski
05-27-2012, 04:56 PM
SPOILER ALERT -THIS THREAD ASSUMES FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE PLOTS OF THE TWO FILMS DISCUSSED:

The original Shaft and French Connection movies were playing on satellite recently.

I haven't seen either movie for years, and watching them was a curious and challenging experience.

Both films were released in 1971.

The change in production techniques is immediately striking. Certain technical elements had dated so far that they disrupted the essential suspension of disbelief: never ending, accidentally jerky, zoom shots (abandoned even in documentary years ago); scenes that didn't advance the storyline and should have been dropped in the cutting room or hacked way back to serve an atmospheric rather than narrative purpose; really dysfunctional timing in some of the edits and delivery of lines by actors. Etc etc.

Against that, both films still exhibited raw power. And, eventually, this enabled my belief to be suspended and the films to suck me in.

Shaft is more dated. It's blaxploitation roots (indeed arguably its creation of the genre) are both a boon and a curse.

Starting with Isaac Hayes' soundtrack:

Who's the black private dick
That's a sex machine to all the chicks?
SHAFT!
Ya damn right!

"Shaft" sing the backing singers - Shaft Shaft.

Now, forty-odd years later, the storyline of Shaft feels fairly conventional. Its power resides in its shoving of stereotypes quite literally down the throat of the viewer: an intelligent black man who lives a materially successful life on his own terms, sexually attractive to white women who complain that he's "great in the sack but shitty outside", whilst having a long term relatonship with a black woman, and - crucially - this "black private dick" is both smarter and more dynamic than the American-Italian detective who tries to use him as a bridge into black culture.

Shaft felt like a 2-hour continuation of the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Fuck you, we're human beings, we will break the shackles, the chains, and live life our own way....

John Shaft is as much anti-hero as hero, a street hustler whose only loyalty is to himself. But still a potent, charismatic, figure who challenges bourgeois, (or as we say now MSM), assumptions.

The core strength of French Connection also lies in the reality it lays bare.

With the metallic, discordant, clanging over the opening titles, French Connection dumps you straight into its street life, with the deeply flawed Doyle and Russo hustling bars and dealers. These cops are not heroes, they're as much hustlers as the prey they chase.

Fundamentally, it's a work of nihilism. Every character in the film is fucked up. And the system is fucked up too. So, naturally, during the film's climax, rather than shooting the "bad guy", Doyle shoots a fellow cop, Mulderig, who thinks Doyle is a Grade-A asshole.

Artistic techniques change and evolve (not always for the better).

Ultimately, both films survive and transcend their 1970s technical constraints.

Both give the finger to lazy, numb, consensus reality, and their power resides in this.

And Gene Hackman is an amazing actor. He is "Popeye" Doyle, and he is brilliant.

Tracy Riddle
06-15-2013, 09:19 PM
I can't say I was ever that crazy about either film. A much better Gene Hackman film from the period is THE CONVERSATION, directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Following the life of a professional surveillance man, the equipment used is obviously dated but the film's message is even more relevant today.

Director William Friedkin knows how to deliver thrills and chills in FRENCH CONNECTION, but as with THE EXORCIST and SORCERER, there's not as much going on beneath the surface. SORCERER is a pale remake of THE WAGES OF FEAR. And THE EXORCIST would only scare a conservative Christian brought up to believe that the most evil thing on earth is foul language and blasphemous sexual talk.

I'd love to see someone remake THE EXORCIST where the possessed girl carries on a philosophical talk with the priests: "So, who do you think is responsible for more death, suffering and mayhem? The devil, or the Catholic Church?"

Keith Millea
06-15-2013, 10:14 PM
I own one Blaxploitation movie.It's about a black cia agent who gets fed up with the agency abuse and decides to train a guerrilla army to fight back.I imagine the agency didn't much like this movie at all,and probably tried to supress it at the time..I see that the whole movie is on Youtube now.

Trailer:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=tsH8Y5wpDSs

David Guyatt
06-16-2013, 07:16 AM
Hackman is a brilliant actor - from his gritty cynicism in Mississippi Burning through to his role as Sgt. Johnny Gallagher in the excellent film The Package, he is pure quality.

Jan Klimkowski
06-16-2013, 11:52 AM
I own one Blaxploitation movie.It's about a black cia agent who gets fed up with the agency abuse and decides to train a guerilla army to fight back.I imagine the agency didn't much like this movie at all,and probably tried to supress it at the time..I see that the whole movie is on Youtube now.



Keith - that's great.

I see the film was released in 1973 - perfect timing for the false flag Cinque and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

The book was published in 1969, written by Sam Greenlee, of whom wiki tells us (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Greenlee):



Sam Greenlee (born July 13, 1930) is an African-American writer, best known for his controversial novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, first published in London by Allison & Busby in March 1969, and was chosen as The Sunday Times Book of the Year.[1] The novel was subsequently made into the 1973 movie of the same name, directed by Ivan Dixon and co-produced and written by Greenlee.[2]

Life and work

Born in Chicago, Greenlee attended the University of Wisconsin (BS, political science, 1952) and the University of Chicago (1954-7). He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He served in the military (1952-4), earning the rank of first lieutenant, and subsequently worked for the United States Information Agency, serving in Iraq (in 1958 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for bravery during the Baghdad revolution), Pakistan, Indonesia, and Greece between 1957 and 1965.[3] Leaving the US foreign service after eight years, he stayed on in Greece. He undertook further study (1963-4) at the University of Thessaloniki, and lived for three years on the island of Mykonos, where he began to write his first novel. That was eventually published in 1969 as The Spook Who sat by the Door, the story of a black man who is recruited as a CIA agent and having mastered the skills of a spy then uses them to lead a black guerrilla movement in the US.[4][5] In 2011, an independent documentary film entitled Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door was filmed by Christine Acham and Clifford Ward, about the making and reception of the Spook film.[6]

Other works by Greenlee include Baghdad Blues, a 1976 novel based on his experiences traveling in Iraq in the 1950s, Blues for an African Princess, a 1971 collection of poems, and Ammunition (poetry, 1975). In 1990 Greenlee was the Illinois poet laureate. He also wrote the screenplay for a film short called Lisa Trotter (2010), a story adapted from Aristophanes' Lysistrata.[7]
Bibliography

Novels

The Spook Who Sat by the Door, London: Allison & Busby, 1969.
Baghdad Blues, New York: Bantam, 1976.

Poetry

Blues for an African Princess, Chicago: Third World Press, 1971.
Ammunition!: Poetry and Other Raps (introduction Andrew Salkey), London: Bogle-L'Ouverture, 1975.
Be-Bop Man/Be-Bop Woman, 1968-1993: Poetry and Other Raps, Cambrea Heights, NY: Natiki, 1995.

References

^ Chris Routledge, "Sam Greenlee Biography - Novel Became Cult Favorite, Enjoyed Brief Revival, Selected writings"
^ IMDb (Internet Movie Database).
^ Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
^ Rosaling Cummings, "Local Lit: the relaxed rage of Sam Greenlee", Chicago Reader, April 14, 1994.
^ DeWayne Wickham, "Sam Greenlee's Book Is Still Making a Statement", ChickenBones: A Journal for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes.
^ "Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door", IMDb.
^ Lisa Trotter page at IMDb.



This certainly deserves further research.

If nothing else, we know that the spooks are extremely, ahem, opportunistic.....

Magda Hassan
06-18-2013, 10:58 AM
I watched The French Connection today. Nihlistic. Yes. But then that whole part of the sub-culture is. All shades of grey. No white hats and black hats. I don't know if it was just my copy or if it was made that way but I quite liked the colour it was done in. Muted, washed out and dull like. Not crisp and bright and shiny at all. It spoke well.

I tried to down load Shaft but, ahem, will make sure next time there are no minors in the room when I go searching....it was quite alarming....So it will have to wait as my memory is too long gone to be of much use there.

David Guyatt
06-18-2013, 11:19 AM
I tried to down load Shaft but, ahem, will make sure next time there are no minors in the room when I go searching....it was quite alarming....So it will have to wait as my memory is too long gone to be of much use there.

:pointlaugh::pointlaugh:

Jan Klimkowski
06-18-2013, 07:00 PM
I tried to down load Shaft but, ahem, will make sure next time there are no minors in the room when I go searching....it was quite alarming....So it will have to wait as my memory is too long gone to be of much use there.

We can't have that Magda.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the intro to Shaft.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehg2EaYhoJs




It's a little slow, but its grammar and purpose are clear.

The streets.

Steam-driven pan past the movie theatres showing films about sex and violence.

Camera finding this black guy striding out of the subway into the streets, his big brown leather coat and manner establishing him as an independent dude, in control and confident in his environment.

The exchange with the street hustler reveals that he's some sort of cop but a fair-minded one.

Time for Isaac Hayes' soundtrack:

Who's the black private dick
That's a sex machine to all the chicks?
SHAFT!
Ya damn right!

"Shaft" sing the backing singers - Shaft Shaft.

You dig it?

Then, guess what, he walks into a shop to get his shoes shined.......

:dancingman:

Jan Klimkowski
06-18-2013, 09:52 PM
I watched The French Connection today. Nihlistic. Yes. But then that whole part of the sub-culture is. All shades of grey. No white hats and black hats. I don't know if it was just my copy or if it was made that way but I quite liked the colour it was done in. Muted, washed out and dull like. Not crisp and bright and shiny at all. It spoke well.



The French Connection is nihilstic.

It has the colour of the grimy streets, where everyone's hustling for something, and everything is for sale.

From the opening bars of discordant metallic music against black screen, everything is dangerous, flawed, compromised.

The only elegance is Frog One, Fernando Rey, gliding through hotel lobbies, even giving Popeye Doyle the slip on the subway of his own town.

Frog One, elegance and charm personified, is a big time heroin dealer, the French Connection.

The movie is anti-heroic. The little guys die brutally. Frog One escapes. Doyle shoots and kills a cop. Again. And then shrugs his shoulders and resumes the pursuit.

He is still obsessed.

He knows the war is meaningless and can never be won, but he loves the action of the chase, the thrill of busting flesh.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUdr1LdCsq0

Magda Hassan
06-18-2013, 09:58 PM
The only elegance is Frog One, Fernando Rey, gliding through hotel lobbies, even giving Popeye Doyle the slip on the subway of his own town.

Frog One, elegance and charm personified, is a big time heroin dealer, the French Connection.


Yes indeed. But he still has to hang with scammers and losers and scramble for his life through a derelict factory. Didn't look so elegant then. Interesting that he was the one who did get away though. Presumably.

Phil Dragoo
06-18-2013, 11:41 PM
Philip J. Sneed, president of Unity Bank & Trust, 416 Warren Street, Roxbury, Mass.

Six-two, two-and-a-quarter, karate, weightlifting, well-turned out in a suit of the time--black, not Lord & Taylor.

At the employees meeting, sixty-two, two whites, yours truly and Shirley running the posting machine in bookkeeping, Mr. Sneed says:

"Sneed don't take no shit from nobody, walkin' or ridin', slippin' or slidin'."

He would visit the various departments and when Mr. Sneed said, "Good morning," everyone said, "Good morning."

One day Nita told Audrey across my space which was dialed back to our new friend status,

"Audrey, some crazy n(and she said it, had the license to say it) tried to rob Mr. Sneed's bank."

This had been the scuffle in the lobby above us.

The police were notified after the takedown.

~ ~ ~


As for The French Connection, police were either hicks, as in, "How about this guy, what's his name--does he need the stuff?" Barney Fife didn't understand the difference between weed and smack;

or, in the alternative, some kind of sideburns, turtleneck, medallion nark, "I don't want to make a scene, but I'm willing to buy a nickel bag."

On the street Ray Charles' stunt double in shades and trenchcoat flanked by his doubles distinguished by fedoras pause to offer Jacoby Fenner's little buddy Check-Check, "I got some good junk, Man."

Imagine: what a future, there in the Village, having pawned everything, reduced to hustling tourists for handouts.

For that injection.

Historic visits to Burma. Whatever for.

Magda Hassan
06-19-2013, 06:51 AM
I see it was directed by Ivan Dixon of Hogan's Heroes fame. They never had any Soviet prisoners of war in their camp....or even mentioned them....like they just didn't even exist....

Looks great Keith. Now I'll have to look for the rest of it. Sam Greenlee certainly led an 'interesting' life.


I own one Blaxploitation movie.It's about a black cia agent who gets fed up with the agency abuse and decides to train a guerilla army to fight back.I imagine the agency didn't much like this movie at all,and probably tried to supress it at the time..I see that the whole movie is on Youtube now.



Keith - that's great.

I see the film was released in 1973 - perfect timing for the false flag Cinque and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

The book was published in 1969, written by Sam Greenlee, of whom wiki tells us (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Greenlee):



Sam Greenlee (born July 13, 1930) is an African-American writer, best known for his controversial novel The Spook Who Sat by the Door, first published in London by Allison & Busby in March 1969, and was chosen as The Sunday Times Book of the Year.[1] The novel was subsequently made into the 1973 movie of the same name, directed by Ivan Dixon and co-produced and written by Greenlee.[2]

Life and work

Born in Chicago, Greenlee attended the University of Wisconsin (BS, political science, 1952) and the University of Chicago (1954-7). He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. He served in the military (1952-4), earning the rank of first lieutenant, and subsequently worked for the United States Information Agency, serving in Iraq (in 1958 he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for bravery during the Baghdad revolution), Pakistan, Indonesia, and Greece between 1957 and 1965.[3] Leaving the US foreign service after eight years, he stayed on in Greece. He undertook further study (1963-4) at the University of Thessaloniki, and lived for three years on the island of Mykonos, where he began to write his first novel. That was eventually published in 1969 as The Spook Who sat by the Door, the story of a black man who is recruited as a CIA agent and having mastered the skills of a spy then uses them to lead a black guerrilla movement in the US.[4][5] In 2011, an independent documentary film entitled Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door was filmed by Christine Acham and Clifford Ward, about the making and reception of the Spook film.[6]

Other works by Greenlee include Baghdad Blues, a 1976 novel based on his experiences traveling in Iraq in the 1950s, Blues for an African Princess, a 1971 collection of poems, and Ammunition (poetry, 1975). In 1990 Greenlee was the Illinois poet laureate. He also wrote the screenplay for a film short called Lisa Trotter (2010), a story adapted from Aristophanes' Lysistrata.[7]
Bibliography

Novels

The Spook Who Sat by the Door, London: Allison & Busby, 1969.
Baghdad Blues, New York: Bantam, 1976.

Poetry

Blues for an African Princess, Chicago: Third World Press, 1971.
Ammunition!: Poetry and Other Raps (introduction Andrew Salkey), London: Bogle-L'Ouverture, 1975.
Be-Bop Man/Be-Bop Woman, 1968-1993: Poetry and Other Raps, Cambrea Heights, NY: Natiki, 1995.

References

^ Chris Routledge, "Sam Greenlee Biography - Novel Became Cult Favorite, Enjoyed Brief Revival, Selected writings"
^ IMDb (Internet Movie Database).
^ Contemporary African American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
^ Rosaling Cummings, "Local Lit: the relaxed rage of Sam Greenlee", Chicago Reader, April 14, 1994.
^ DeWayne Wickham, "Sam Greenlee's Book Is Still Making a Statement", ChickenBones: A Journal for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes.
^ "Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door", IMDb.
^ Lisa Trotter page at IMDb.



This certainly deserves further research.

If nothing else, we know that the spooks are extremely, ahem, opportunistic.....

Magda Hassan
06-19-2013, 07:54 AM
I tried to down load Shaft but, ahem, will make sure next time there are no minors in the room when I go searching....it was quite alarming....So it will have to wait as my memory is too long gone to be of much use there.

We can't have that Magda.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is the intro to Shaft.



:dancingman:
Thank you Jan! I was looking for Jane Fonda in the credits but she wasn't in this was she? I think it was Klute with Sutherland and Scheider I am getting mixed up with.

David Guyatt
06-19-2013, 09:43 AM
I was also impressed by Roy Snyder in this film too. For me his performance in The Marathon Man was also excellent.

But I have a question. I recall a scene where Doyle and his partner were present in the Cocabanana nightclub eyeing wise guys and it was there where he got a lead. I've Googled but can't find any mention of this in the film's locations etc. Am I mis-remembering?

I certainly hope not, because I was so taken with the film at the time, that on a business visit to Manhattan in the late 1970's, I even spent an evening in the Cocabanana chewing a burned steak and listening to a second rate band. Very disappointing.

Magda Hassan
06-19-2013, 09:57 AM
I was also impressed by Roy Snyder in this film too. For me his performance in The Marathon Man was also excellent.

But I have a question. I recall a scene where Doyle and his partner were present in the Cocabanana nightclub eyeing wise guys and it was there where he got a lead. I've Googled but can't find any mention of this in the film's locations etc. Am I mis-remembering?

I certainly hope not, because I was so taken with the film at the time, that on a business visit to Manhattan in the late 1970's, I even spent an evening in the Cocabanana chewing a burned steak and listening to a second rate band. Very disappointing.

No it was there. In the wiki for the Three Degrees, the girl band singing in the club it is mentioned too:

1970s
[edit (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Three_Degrees&action=edit&section=3)]By 1970 they were signed to Roulette Records (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roulette_Records) and they released their first album, Maybe.[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Degrees#cite_note-AMG-1) The title song, this time with Valerie Holiday taking the lead vocals, took them to #4 on the US (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States) R&B (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hot_R%26B/Hip-Hop_Songs) charts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Record_chart). The singles "I Do Take You" and "You're The Fool" followed, as did their second album, So Much Love. This success landed them a cameo appearance in the 1971 film, The French Connection (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_French_Connection_(film)), filmed during one of their appearances at the Copacabana nightclub (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copacabana_(nightclub)) in New York (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City), and also an engagement at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas,_Nevada), Nevada (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nevada) with Engelbert Humperdinck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engelbert_Humperdinck_(singer)).[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Degrees#cite_note-AMG-1)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Three_Degrees

David Guyatt
06-19-2013, 10:20 AM
Thanks for that Magda. Phew! No need to get some anti-Dementia pills from the doctor today.

Jan Klimkowski
06-19-2013, 05:49 PM
But I have a question. I recall a scene where Doyle and his partner were present in the Cocabanana nightclub eyeing wise guys and it was there where he got a lead. I've Googled but can't find any mention of this in the film's locations etc. Am I mis-remembering?

I certainly hope not, because I was so taken with the film at the time, that on a business visit to Manhattan in the late 1970's, I even spent an evening in the Cocabanana chewing a burned steak and listening to a second rate band. Very disappointing.

As Magda says, the band was The Three Degrees, whilst Hackman and Schneider spot some dodgy dealings.

You can see a snatch of the scene in The French Connection trailer I posted above in post #9, about 25 seconds in.

Phil Dragoo
06-20-2013, 07:37 AM
The French Connection -- Video Tribute


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoqQN94ibDc

Magda Hassan
06-20-2013, 07:46 AM
Bad Santa. :santa:

Jan Klimkowski
07-01-2013, 06:43 PM
Hackman is a brilliant actor - from his gritty cynicism in Mississippi Burning through to his role as Sgt. Johnny Gallagher in the excellent film The Package, he is pure quality.

Can you imagine how different the movie would have been with a bigger budget and minus Hackman?



Though the cast ultimately proved to be one of the film (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_French_Connection_%28film%29)'s greatest strengths, Friedkin had problems with casting choices from the start. He was strongly opposed to the choice of Hackman for the lead, and actually first considered Paul Newman (out of the budget range), then Jackie Gleason, Peter Boyle and a New York columnist, Jimmy Breslin, who had never acted before.[4] However, Gleason, at that time, was considered box-office poison by the studio after his film Gigot had flopped several years before, Boyle declined the role after disapproving of the violent theme of the film, and Breslin refused to get behind the wheel of a car, which was required of Popeye's character for an integral car chase scene. Steve McQueen was also considered, but he did not want to do another police film after Bullitt and, as with Newman, his fee would have exceeded the movie's budget. Tough guy Charles Bronson was also considered for the role. Friedkin almost settled for Rod Taylor (who had actively pursued the role, according to Hackman), another choice the studio approved, before he went with Hackman.

Charles Drago
07-01-2013, 07:17 PM
A nod to Rod Taylor, who produced and starred in the flawed but compelling western Chuka.

It's one of my favorites of the cowboy-as-existential-hero genre -- Paul Newman's convention-bombing Hombre, directed by the honorable Martin Ritt from the novel by Elmore Leonard, is far and away the best to date.

The "white flag" and "money for hostage swap" scenes are literally unforgettable.

Taylor as Popeye Doyle? I think not.

Magda Hassan
07-02-2013, 03:47 AM
Taylor as Popeye Doyle? I think not.
Oooh, no I can't see that either...Taylor is too much a gentleman. Lacks the grit of Hackman. Would have been a completely different beast with him cast as Popeye.

Charles Drago
07-02-2013, 12:44 PM
Taylor as Popeye Doyle? I think not.
Oooh, no I can't see that either...Taylor is too much a gentleman. Lacks the grit of Hackman. Would have been a completely different beast with him cast as Popeye.

Exactly. Taylor's chivalry -- or rather, his ability to express a chivalric core within the gruffest of exteriors -- is on full display in the aforementioned Chuka.

So too is the exquisite Luciana Paluzzi -- although she's no Senta Berger.

But I digress.