The French Connection

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Person
Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 3:00 pm

Re: The French Connection

#26 Post by Person » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:13 pm

I'll have the UK Blu-Ray two-pack of The French Connection and French Connection II tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing how far removed the aesthetic of the original is from the SD-DVD transfer. The French Connection wasn't a film that had elaborate lighting, lavish set decoration or colorful costumes, so it should look pretty 'straight and standard' though it has a lot of mood in several scenes. The Exorcist, on the other hand, was meticulously designed with many destinctive scenes of instantly recognisable artistry. I'm worried that Friedkin will push the film into looking like Suspiria (which has it's own amazing aesthetic). Sorcerer has a bold, bleak aesthetic and I hope too, that it isn't altered drastically. Maybe that is why the SE DVD never came out - Friedkin wants to create a new, color "corrected" transfer.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The French Connection

#27 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:49 pm

Person wrote:The French Connection wasn't a film that had elaborate lighting, lavish set decoration or colorful costumes, so it should look pretty 'straight and standard' though it has a lot of mood in several scenes.
Just because they weren't elaborate or lavish doesn't mean they weren't highly calculated.

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HerrSchreck
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Re: The French Connection

#28 Post by HerrSchreck » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:51 pm

Freidkin used a rather cool and unorthodox method here to prevent the cinematographer from having the opportunity to ponder and linger over the shots: he kept his operator away from the rehearsals where the actor's blocking was laid down. Then when shooting time came, he dropped Ricky Bravo in there with almost no time to cultivate the usual elements that a cameraman works with. He wanted him to approach his task like a news photographer plunked into the middle of a situation already in progress.

This flat straight ahead style, used to such great effect in the 1970's, is sorely missed nowadays.

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david hare
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Re: The French Connection

#29 Post by david hare » Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:29 pm

I remember French Connection reasonably well from first screenings and it always looked "clean". Enough has been said about that already, but I think something to consider with 60s and 70s Fox pictures was the variable quality control of Deluxe/Eastman printing for the domestic vs the export markets. All through the sixties, after more than a decade of good to excellent Deluxe (and several Technicolor printed) Fox prints here in Oz, the quality control clearly went down the toilet for Fox export prints, and for most of the late sixties and early 70s Fox Deluxe prints playing here, even in first release Roadshow Houses were almost always pale shadows of their Us cousins. I saw Bedazzled, for instance in NYC in December 1967 and then a few months later in Sydney and it was like two different movies. The NY midtown screening print looked like it was frame by frame supervised and flawlessly color timed but the Sydney print looked liike shit. (So does the current DVD - but then so does the movie.) French Connection (and the Frankenheimer sequel which is in fact a better movie) looked pretty good/true but these were here in large print runs and did a lot of business. I don't think this has anything to do with Friedkin's entirely perverse and personal revision of the look for the BluRay but you certainly have to bear in mind how bad even Deluxe could sometimes look, even though it was probably the very best of the Studio patented Eastman processes, including Metrocolor and Warnercolor for lab quality control.

Interestingly Siegel's Dirty Harry from roughly the same era was shot in similarly open light conditions with plenty of semi improvised action sequences (DP Bruce Surtees) but Universal was sticking with Technicolor for prints. Until 1974 of course.

Props55
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Re: The French Connection

#30 Post by Props55 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:23 am

Interesting post David. Not being much of a world traveler I was not aware of the inferior quality of Fox/DeLuxe export prints. I am however, very aware of how badly DeLuxe prints would fade after about 7-10 years just by how they'd look in rotation on the 2nd run and drive-in circuit. United Artists also used DeLuxe for most of their domestic titles (virtually all the Mirisch Bros. stuff) and those with sharp eyes could even spot their prints on network broadcasts. Columbia prints usually turned brackish red or redbrown and Metro tended torwards pink or magenta but in 1982 I found out just why David Lean praised the Metrocolor labs as highly as he did. I was working on an 18-day indie shoot produced by Michael Ritchie and one day was drafted to pick up dailies and set them up on a flatbed editor. What I saw was a wonder to behold. These dailies looked better than most release prints I've seen! None of this one-light work print shit but perfectly color balanced and timed. About two months later I saw firsthand the slap-shit work typical of TVC on another project. Cold, heavy in the blue spectrum with complexions looking as if the cast had been filmed in an ice house (in other words pretty much just like the release prints) and frequent deep emulsion scratches requiring retakes. Like night a day. Of course the Metrocolor would eventually bleed but it did looked great for a few years. And the lab service outlived the studio proper by more than a decade I believe.

You're right about Surtees and his fast pace (he had to be quick to satisfy Siegel and Eastwood) and his ability to deliver good looking, handsomely lit, well saturated work. It helped that most of it was Universal and Warner (thus Technicolor) but I rate his work very highly during this period. DIRTY HARRY, GREAT NORTHFIELD MINNESOTA RAID, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, THE BEGUILED, BLUME IN LOVE, NIGHT MOVES .... great stuff!

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Person
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Re: The French Connection

#31 Post by Person » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:18 pm

I watched the Blu-ray set of French Connection I and II this week. The new transfer for the original is basically a good HD transfer, considering the gritty style of the film. As for the colour alterations, they didn't jump out at me as I was expecting them to and I am a huge fan of the film, having seen it many times. Friedkin wanted to subdue the colours, especially where lush colour was present, ie. the scenes in Marseilles, and the comparison featurette shows that this pretty much works towards keeping the film downbeat and focused on the characters. I still have the original SD DVD, but there isn't anything in the new transfer that offended me and I respect Friedkin's decisions. But then again, I am a huge fan of Owen Roizman's work as a cinematographer and I can understand why he isn't happy with the transfer.

As for The Exorcist, the priority is getting the original 1973 theatrical cut on Blu-ray, though I am more wary of any alterations to the colour scheme with that film, as it has a famously elaborate set design, make-up effects and overall cinematographic aesthetic. I also am very, very keen to see a Blu-ray of Sorcerer. A widescreen presentation recently showed up on German TV, though doesn't look HD:

ImageImage

We have all known for years that the VHS, LD and DVD of this film was from an unmatted and cropped master but it's clear now that it was an old master, circa 1991.

I see that on the John Frankenheimer: In Focus featurette on the extras for Connection II, there are clips from The Train in what is clearly 1.66:1 though it's hard to tell if it is HD or not. I'd be stoked to here that a Blu-ray of that marvelous was on the way!


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aox
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Re: The French Connection

#33 Post by aox » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:44 am

That's fantastic news. I wonder how that all came about.

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Oedipax
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Re: The French Connection

#34 Post by Oedipax » Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:18 am

Hopefully it came about because Friedkin was already at the post facility doing Sorceror, dammit.

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Graham
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Re: The French Connection

#35 Post by Graham » Thu Mar 08, 2012 3:46 pm

I never bought the original blu-ray, only the sequel. How does an Englishman get this blu when Best Buy won't ship to the UK?

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swo17
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Re: The French Connection

#36 Post by swo17 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 4:20 pm

Buy it from a third party seller on Amazon marketplace, or wait a little while and Amazon will probably start selling it directly.

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Jeff
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Re: The French Connection

#37 Post by Jeff » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:29 am


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Graham
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Re: The French Connection

#38 Post by Graham » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:36 am

I've never seen this film theatrically, but those screengrabs look like every previous TV broadcast, video and DVD of The French Connection I've watched.

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Jeff
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Re: The French Connection

#39 Post by Jeff » Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:47 pm

Graham wrote:I've never seen this film theatrically, but those screengrabs look like every previous TV broadcast, video and DVD of The French Connection I've watched.
What they don't look like is the previous acid washed Blu-ray.

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Gregory
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Re: The French Connection

#40 Post by Gregory » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:48 pm

An old friend of mine was in this film. I've never mentioned this before, because I was self-conscious about seeming to brag or name-drop or something, but that was probably silly because it's just a bit part. He's the chemist who tests the heroin's purity. I've always relished that scene.
Blast off: 180... 200: Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. 210: U.S. government certified. 220: lunar trajectory, Junk of the Month Club, sirloin steak. 230: Grade-A poison. Absolute dynamite, 89 percent pure junk. Best I've ever seen. If the rest is like this, you'll be dealing on this load for two years.
He's every bit as crazy and brilliant in day-to-day life as anyone could ever imagine from seeing him as an actor, probably more so. Unfortunately, he was only in a couple other films.
According to Friedkin, they used real heroin for the scene. One can only imagine why they'd do that!

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hearthesilence
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Re: The French Connection

#41 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:58 pm

Ha, that's awesome! Nah, there's nothing obnoxious about that, I love stuff like that. I grew up in a small town in Illinois, and when I was a kid, the idea of meeting anyone up on the screen was like going to Mars, just a completely different reality that might as well have been a million miles away. So for me, knowing or just meeting "regular" people who somehow make it into a movie is a bit surreal in a funny way.

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Graham
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Re: The French Connection

#42 Post by Graham » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:19 am

Jeff wrote:
Graham wrote:I've never seen this film theatrically, but those screengrabs look like every previous TV broadcast, video and DVD of The French Connection I've watched.
What they don't look like is the previous acid washed Blu-ray.
Oh, I know. My previous comment was meant as a positive as it was disheartening having a favourite film released in high-definition with the life scrubbed out of it. Now, I can finally upgrade from DVD.

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MichaelB
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Re: The French Connection

#43 Post by MichaelB » Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:21 am

hearthesilence wrote:Ha, that's awesome! Nah, there's nothing obnoxious about that, I love stuff like that. I grew up in a small town in Illinois, and when I was a kid, the idea of meeting anyone up on the screen was like going to Mars, just a completely different reality that might as well have been a million miles away. So for me, knowing or just meeting "regular" people who somehow make it into a movie is a bit surreal in a funny way.
A friend of mine recently watched Lucio Fulci's The House by the Cemetery for the first time, and discovered to his amazement that:
...it was filmed in my home town - while I was living in it! In one establishing shot you can just about make out the side of my house! And it wouldn't surprise me if I happened to spot a cheeky little bowl-haircutted 9-year old kid screwing around on his bike in the background. Believe me, I've been looking!

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hearthesilence
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Re: The French Connection

#44 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:52 pm

Wonderful story! The closest I've ever come to that experience was when I popped in The Squid & the Whale months after moving to Brooklyn. I had already seen it, but that was before I had ever visited this borough. When I spotted a blurry Gorilla Coffee sign in the background, I realized that was a block from my apartment. Your friend's experience is a lot more surreal though, and Brooklyn gets used in so many TV/film/commercial shoots anyway.

atcolomb
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Re: The French Connection

#45 Post by atcolomb » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:13 pm

Just received the new blu-ray version the movie and it does look much better...gone are the pastel colors and the contrast levels now look normal. The sound is the same as the previous version and the only extras missing from the earlier version is the excellent BBC documentary 'The Poughkeepsie Shuffle' and a featurette about color timing the film. So if you have the first blu-ray release buy the second one and keep both if you want all the extras that came with the film.


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manicsounds
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Re: The French Connection

#47 Post by manicsounds » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:46 am

Well, he finally explains that he wasn't crazy. Fox fucked it up in the first place and he didn't know!

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hearthesilence
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Re: The French Connection

#48 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:27 am

I dunno...when the old edition came out, they (and he) explained in great detail what they did to the film, and while the end result on the Blu-Ray may have mismatched the master, it's really, really difficult to believe that doing what they did to the movie can create anything that looks anywhere close to the movie as it was originally shot. (Superimposing a desaturated transfer of the film over another is going to double the grain and suck out the color, period.)

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warren oates
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Re: The French Connection

#49 Post by warren oates » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:54 pm

I don't believe this new spin on what went wrong either. Friedkin's a great filmmaker. But he's also quite the teller of tales in real life. It's never his fault when things don't work out. And this goes way, way back before anyone ever even knew who he was. See Ralph Rosenblum's book about editing When The Shooting Stops for the evidence.

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whaleallright
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Re: The French Connection

#50 Post by whaleallright » Fri Jul 27, 2012 5:44 pm

I know from the proverbial horse's mouth that Friedkin not only approved but had a very active role in making the previous Blu-Ray transfer. In fact he convinced Fox to release it over the archivists' objections, saying that it "was how I always wanted the film to look." (Roizman was appalled by this transfer, as he should have been.)

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