On Location: Reconnecting With The French Connection

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If you liked our previous look back at the film locations of British crime classic Get Carter, you’ll enjoy this look by @cinematyler  on the locations of the car / train chase from The French Connection.

As well as Tyler walking in Popeye Doyle’s shoes, there’s a wealth of illuminating information revealed, thanks to his in-depth research, as well as a nifty superimposition in the background of Gene Hackman dodging Nicoli’s sniper attack from the roof of his apartment complex (still standing). For the latter part of the chase, Director William Friedkin secured permission to control traffic for five blocks or so, but after that, the crew were in a grey zone, driving wildly at speed surrounded by civilian traffic and pedestrians, with only the siren and flashing light of the car to alert people to get the hell out of the way.

Friedkin did all the filming himself from the back seat because no one else would do it, it was so dangerous. He used a 50mm lens from the back to simulate a person’s POV from inside the car, and a 25mm lens on the bumper to get wide shots at street level of the speeding danger zone. Sound wasn’t recorded because of the piercing siren – instead the sound of the elevated train was added later by sound man Chris Newman in New York, and Sound Supervisor Don Hall created the car and street sounds in California’ Fox Studios. Friedkin and editor Jerry Greenberg cut the chase to Carlos Santana’s  cover of Black Magic Woman to get a feel for the correct rhythm and pace.

For even further “then and now” insight into the wider authentic location shooting and how the city has changed or not, I recommend also ScoutingNY‘s in-depth trawl.


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