GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Thursday, May 23, 2013

William Friedkin

I recently attended screenings of The French Connection and To Live and Die in L.A. at the Aero Theater presented by the American Cinematheque. William Friedkin was present and spoke about these two outstanding films both of which I have seen more than thirty times over the years. Thirty? Yes. Would you listen to Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 only once? As time passes and I have experienced more of life, I find my perception of these films changing but what has not changed is my affection for them. Friedkin made a similar comment about Lawrence of Arabia with which I completely agree--probably the best film ever made, if one knows anything about filmmaking and storytelling.

 Listening to William Friedkin talk about The French Connection, I was reminded yet again of how fragile a film can be until its completion and exhibition. Even after its release, there were those who wanted to re-do certain aspects of the film and movie buffs can be thankful that the film emerged as it did without any aftermarket revisions. The Friedkin signature of a noteworthy score--by Don Ellis in this case--and a piercing cynicism drawing our attention to the parallel between the underworld and law enforcement is as thought provoking today as it was when the film was released.

The most interesting part of the evening for me came when Friedkin spoke of the famous car chase scene in which Gene Hackman chases after an elevated train carrying a fleeing Marcel Bozzuffi. He didn't have permits for the chase and the train sequence was made possible only by the audacity of the filmmakers and a certain rail employee. When I engaged in these antics, I would usually go out to El Mirage (unless one counts that time in Mexico) to get out of harm's way. Friedkin pulled it off in the middle of New Your City. Regardless of the budget, long live guerrilla filmmaking!

William Friedkin's new book, The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir, can be found here: 

1 comment:

Kevin Courtright said...

Definitely a night to remember. I only wish I'd changed my mind and made it to The Exorcist the next night.