Saturday, 2 April 2011

Best Actor 1971: Gene Hackman in The French Connection

Gene Hackman won his first Oscar from his third nomination for portraying Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection.

The French Connection tells the story of a plan to transfer heroine from France to the United States, and the method in which the police found and unraveled the plot.

There are certian types of performances, that certainly can be written off quickly, because perhaps there are not constant dramatic scenes involved in their performances, a performance like this is by Gene Hackman's in the French Connection. A performance like his should not be written off as a lacking or unspectacular because it is not filled with scenes which main purpose is to simple allow him to dramatically act out a scene. Gene Hackman's performance here I find is quite strong as the tough, loud, narcotics detective "Popeye" Doyle. I find part of what is so strong about his performances is that it does not have scenes that are there to develop his character, yet I find his character is incredibly well developed nonetheless. Hackman develops Popeye as the film the proceeds rather doing it in specific scenes just for that. Hackman manages to do it well the plot proceeds forward through the film, and quite well, because I felt I found out a lot about Popeye from his time in the film.

Hackman portrays Doyle's tough complete command of the street particularly well. Now I think this is something that is generally not given enough credit. Being tough, and really being street smart is something is not really as easy as some might think, and to seem really authentically a cop like Popeye is an achievement. Hackman does this quite well, and I particularly find him strong in this aspect when ever he is dealing with a suspect. His dominance over them is appropriately controlling, commanding, and most of all realistic. Also something else I think Hackman really does well is give charming memorable performance that one can easily follow through the complex story of finding the crime. He is simply a charming strong presence that permeates throughout the film quite well. Due to Hackman I could easily follow along with him to the end of the crime, and more thoroughly feel the set backs and the successes of the investigation.

The strongest part of his performance though perhaps is the incredible drive he shows in Popeye. Perhaps an insane, obsessive drive to get what he wants. I really like Hackman whole process through Popeye's obsession from the start of the crime to its end. From the beginning where he obsessively searches for suspects although interestingly in a casual fashion. The obsession grows in Hackman's performance quite well. He pretty subtly shows it through earnestness for awhile until near the end of the film where it is sparked the most. When his full on obsession comes out Hackman becomes quite chilling in the role, showing the full extent of Popeye's uncontrolled need for closure and control of the case. Overall Hackman gives a performance I enjoy very much, an interesting, effective and most of all memorable performance.


Sage Slowdive said...

I should really see it again.

dinasztie said...

I agree with your review.

Anonymous said...

Great review, it made me appreciate his performance more, I was a little disappointed after the film ended because I expected more, but you're right, he did a great job developing his character and he actually gave depth to Popeye, I felt the same way about this performance and Rod Steiger's performance in In the Heat of the Night but now I certainly prefer and appreciate this one way more. What year comes next? 2002? 1951? 1940? 2010?

Louis Morgan said...

Thank you, there certianly are similarities between those two performances. I will announce the next year fairly soon.

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logofanchad3 said...

Gene Hackman is THE MAN. Well deserved win for this performance.