French Connection II is a 1975 crime drama film starring Gene Hackman and directed by John Frankenheimer. It is a fictional sequel to the initially true story of the 1971 Academy Award winning picture The French Connection. The film expands on the central character of Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle who travels to Marseille, France where he is attempting to track down French drug-dealer Alain Charnier, who got away at the end of the first film. Hackman and Fernando Rey are the only returning cast members.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Cast
- 3 Production
- 4 Score
- 5 Reception
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
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Picking up where the original left off, narcotics officer Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) is still searching for the elusive drug kingpin Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey). Orders from the captain send Doyle to Marseille, France, to track down the criminal mastermind and bust his drug ring. Once in France, Doyle is met by Inspector Henri Barthélémy (Bernard Fresson), who resents his rude and crude crimefighting demeanor. Doyle then begins to find himself as a fish out of water in France, where he is matched with a language he cannot understand. Doyle is shown round the police station where he finds his desk is situated directly outside the gents toilets. He tells Barthélémy that he is not satisfied with this positioning and hopes it is not a joke at his expense. Barthélémy informs Doyle that he has read his 'file' and is aware of his reputation in USA and especially hopes he has not brought a gun with him as it is strictly forbidden in France for visiting police officers from other countries to carry firearms.
Doyle continues to struggle with the language and tries to order drinks in a bar. He eventually makes himself understood, befriending the barman in a local bar buying him drinks and they eventually stumble out of the bar together at closing time. Determined to find Charnier on his own, Popeye escapes from his French escorts. While watching a beach volleyball match, Charnier 'makes' him as he is situated in a restaurant below. Charnier sends his henchmen to follow Doyle through the town and after a short game of cat and mouse they capture him and take him to a nearby hotel for interrogation.
For several weeks, Doyle is injected with heroin in effort to force him into capitulation. Scenes of his growing addiction follow, including one in which an elderly lady visits him in his befuddled state. She talks to him, declaring herself to be English, and saying that her son is "just like" him, while stroking his arm. Initially she seems compassionate to his plight, but a change in the camera angle reveals her 'track' marks and that she is slowly removing his expensive-looking watch.
Barthélémy has sent police to search for Doyle and, as the raids close in on where Doyle is detained, he is dumped barely alive but addicted in front of police headquarters. Gritty scenes of resuscitation and drug reversal follow. In his effort to save both Doyle's life and his reputation, Barthélémy immediately quarantines the abused and humiliated American in the police cells and begins his long and agonizing cold turkey withdrawal from the heroin. Supervising his cure, and at his side with both emotional support and taunts questioning his toughness, Barthélémy ensures Doyle completes the cycle of physical withdrawal. When at length he is well enough to be on his feet, Doyle starts back on the road to regaining his physical fitness. He searches Marseillles and, finding the hideout/drug warehouse he was brought to (The Hotel Collonnades), he sets it on fire. He breaks into a room at the hotel and finds Charnier's henchmen, whom he interrogates as to the whereabouts of Charnier. Doyle is joined by Barthélémy and other inspectors. The raid on Charnier and his henchmen is successful, but Charnier escapes. Doyle, in an epic foot chase of Charnier, who is sailing out of Marseille Harbor on his yacht, takes his gun out, calls Charnier's name, and finally shoots him dead.
- Gene Hackman as Det. Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle
- Fernando Rey as Alain Charnier
- Philippe Léotard as Jacques
- Bernard Fresson as Henri Barthélémy
- Jean-Pierre Castaldi as Raoul Diron
- Cathleen Nesbitt as The Old Lady
John Frankenheimer had lived in France for a number of years when he agreed to make the film:
Frankenheimer also admitted he made the film in part because of the financial failure of The Impossible Object. "I want to make pictures that one sees," he said. "There's a great public out there and you have to reach them; otherwise you're not in the movie business."
The music was composed and conducted by Don Ellis, who returned from the original film. The score itself is a very challenging[to whom?] modernistic composition with many jazz elements. A soundtrack CD was released by the Film Score Monthly in 2005 and paired with the music from the first film.
The film has received generally positive reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 76% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 21 reviews with an average score of 6.6/10.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two and a half out of four stars and said that "if Frankenheimer and his screenplay don't do justice to the character (of Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle), they at least do justice to the genre, and this is better than most of the many cop movies that followed The French Connection into release."
The film earned North American rentals of $5.6 million, surpassing its $4.3 million budget.