By Mark Harris
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:48 AM EDT
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Credit: The French Connection: Twentieth Century Fox

Some movies get richer with time. Others age embarrassingly. But William Friedkin’s quintuple-Oscar winner about a dirtbag cop (Gene Hackman) responsible for a multimillion-dollar heroin bust looks, 30 years later, both quaintly dated and revolutionary. The fast pacing celebrated in 1971 now seems stately, the famed car-vs.-subway chase has long since been out-Bruckheimered, and the grimy squalor of New York City and raw clashes between its lawmen and crooks — once so groundbreaking — is now the common currency of everything from ”NYPD Blue” to ”Cops.” But The French Connection plowed the turf first, and to watch it now is to appreciate more than ever Gene Hackman’s uncompromising talent, Owen Roizman’s great, barely-color cinematography, and a time when the spectacle of a foulmouthed, racist, brutal cop could still outrage as many moviegoers as it excited. This handsome two-disc set, including commentary tracks, some 10 minutes of very bad deleted scenes, and two nearly hour-long documentaries, makes a fine case for the movie — even though Friedkin gracelessly trashes the Oscar-winning script (by the conveniently dead Ernest Tidyman) and pretty much grabs credit for everything short of the actual drug bust.

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