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The French Connection

Directed by William Friedkin

The People vs. Paul Crump

Directed by William Friedkin
Director in Person
Screening on Film
$12 Special Event Tickets
  • The French Connection

    Directed by William Friedkin.
    With Gene Hackman, Fernando Rey, Roy Scheider.
    US, 1971, digital video, color, 104 min.
    Copy source: 20th Century Fox

Exploring the strange symmetry between policeman and criminal, Friedkin's Oscar-winning policier codified the screen syntax for an entire genre of hand-held, off-the-cuff, obsessive crime dramas, most notably TV’s fecund Law & Order series. Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider are the simmering, cynical pair of New York detectives who single-handedly set out to stop Fernando Rey's dapper French drug smuggler from bringing a huge stash of heroin into Manhattan. Based on an actual—and eventually closed—narcotics case, The French Connection extends its startling documentary-style realism even into its incredible action sequences, highlighted by quite simply the greatest car chase of American cinema.  

  • The People vs. Paul Crump

    Directed by William Friedkin.
    US, 1962, 16mm, black & white, 59 min.
    Print source: Academy Film Archive

While directing local television news programs at Chicago's WBKB, twenty-seven-year old Friedkin and cameraman Wilmer “Bill” Butler took to the streets with then-new lightweight 16mm cameras to make this riveting and moving  documentary about Paul Crump, a black man on death row for a 1953 robbery that ended in a murder he did not commit. An important touchstone in Friedkin's oeuvre and a key to understanding his documentary approach to cinema, The People vs. Paul Crump is also a key expression of cinematic activism at its purest and most powerful. Friedkin remained an advocate of Crump’s until his 2002 death – behind bars – at the age of seventy-two.

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