French Connection II  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

French Connection II is a 1975 American action thriller 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 escaped at the end of the first film. Hackman won an Academy Award for Best Actor for the original The French Connection and he and Fernando Rey are the only returning cast members.


Picking up two or three years after the original left off, narcotics officer Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) is still searching for elusive drug kingpin Alain Charnier (Fernando Rey). Orders from his superiors send Doyle to Marseille, France, to track down the criminal mastermind and bust his drug ring. Once in France, Doyle is met by English-speaking 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 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 personnel file and is aware of his reputation 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 a bartender while buying him drinks and they eventually stumble out of the bar together at closing time, followed by two men. The next day, while Doyle is watching a beach volleyball match, Charnier sees him from a restaurant below. Determined to find Charnier on his own, Popeye escapes from what are in fact French police escorts keeping watch on him in case Charnier would get him: Doyle doesn't understand that he is being used as a bait by French police... The same night Charnier sends his men to capture Doyle and take him to a secluded, seedy hotel in the old quarter 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 (Cathleen Nesbitt) 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. The gentle old lady steals his watch.

Meanwhile, Barthélémy has sent police everywhere to search for Doyle. Charnier interrogates a needy Doyle about what he knows, but Doyle says he was sent here just because he is the only one who can recognize him. Charnier believes Doyle, so lets him go after one massive injection. Doyle is dumped barely alive but addicted in front of police headquarters. Gruelling scenes of resuscitation and drug withdrawal follow. In his effort to save both Doyle's life and his reputation, Barthélémy immediately quarantines Doyle in the police cells and begins his cold turkey withdrawal from the heroin. Supervising his recovery, and at his side with both emotional support and taunts questioning his toughness, Barthélémy ensures Doyle completes the cycle of physical withdrawal. When he is well enough to be on his feet, Doyle starts back on the road to regaining his physical fitness. He searches Marseille and, finding the hideout he was brought to, sets it on fire. He breaks into a room at the hotel and finds Charnier's henchmen, whom he pursues and interrogates as to the whereabouts of Charnier. A delivery of opium is taking place at the harbour for a future production due. Doyle, Barthélémy and other inspectors rush to the boat that is being unloaded and engage Charnier's henchmen in a gun battle in a dry dock. The thugs open the spillways, water starts rushing in, Doyle and Barthélémy are trapped. The henchmen and an inspector are killed, Doyle rescues Barthélémy. French police hold Doyle responsible for the inspector's death and want to send him home. But Doyle believes that the deal is not done and convinces Barthélémy, who "owes him one" to keep watch over the ship. They eventually spot the ship's captain on his way to meet Charnier's lieutenant, whom Doyle recognizes. A tailing ensues taking the police to the drug warehouse, which they raid, but are met with a barrage of fire. Doyle picks up a gun and kills a gangster machine-gunning them. Charnier's lieutenant and other men escape with the drug load on-board a van, but Barthélémy closes the warehouse door and stops them. But once again Charnier has escaped. Doyle, in a foot chase of Charnier, who is sailing out of the harbor on his yacht, catches up with the boat at the end of the pier, takes his gun out of his holster, calls Charnier's name, and in the last seconds of the movie shoots him dead.


See also

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