Our Gene Hackman in the Seventies series opens with perhaps his most iconic role, as angry cop “Popeye” Doyle in William Friedkin’s The French Connection, for which our man won his first Oscar (and which inspired the name of the fried chicken franchise!)

Review by Trylon volunteer Michelle Baroody.

The two things you’re sure to learn from watching The French Connection: 1) Never let a cop borrow your car; and 2) Never pay for Paul Newman when Gene Hackman is on deck!

Kicking off the series Gene Hackman in the Seventies is the classic 1971 thriller The French Connection, directed by William Friedkin, who is best known for this film and The Exorcist (1973). While there are no possessed girls or rotating heads in this gritty American crime drama, there is plenty of belligerence, brawn, and border crossing to go around.

The film opens in the port city Marseilles, where a French detective eats a sandwich and trails a drug kingpin, Alain “Frog One” Charnier (played by Spanish actor Fernando Rey). However, in the first five minutes of action, this unnamed detective loses his life and his baguette to an unknown assassin.

The French Connection quickly moves to Brooklyn where we encounter narcotics officer Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Hackman), who dons a Santa suit and joins his partner, Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider), in chasing down a young, petty drug dealer. We learn quickly that Popeye is an intuitive, sleep-deprived, aggressive, and racist cop in New York City, fond of casual sex and cocktails, whose “brilliant hunches” might lead to several dead officers or the solution to NYC’s drug problem. It is from such a hunch that the film gets its name, as Popeye and Cloudy stumble upon storeowner Sal Boca (Tony Lo Bianco) and his wife Angie (Arlene Farber), an Italian American couple with unsavory French associates.

Perhaps the real “French Connection” is in this movie’s style. Heavily influenced by the French New Wave of the 50s and 60s, director Friedkin uses choppy editing, urban settings, and hand-held cameras together with an abrupt ending to give the film a kind of rough-and-tumble realism. Shot on location in New York and based on the real lives of two New York City cops in the 70s (who each play minor roles in the film), The French Connection is not to be missed. Hackman’s Oscar-winning performance and a 35mm print of the film are sure to fill your desires for spectacular zooms, fake blood, eerie music, car chases, and good old-fashioned police work.

And stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Michelle Baroody is from Chicago, currently in Minneapolis, a graduate student, and the coordinator of the TC Arab film fest. She is quite fond of geriatric cats, coconut oil, and the newspaper.

The Trylon is screening The French Connection Friday and Saturday at 7:00 & 9:15, Sunday at 5:00 & 7:15. Purchase tickets here.

©Jay Blakesberg/Retna LTD.

The Trylon and Heights Theater’s 1939: Hollywood’s Zenith series continues with perhaps the most iconic American musical ever made: The Wizard of Oz.

Review by Trylon regular Ben Schmidt.


The great and powerful film most of us have fond memories of watching…on television. But even on the tube, The Wizard of Oz bursts with magic and charm.

Case in point: summers ago I was staying with an uncle, moving dirt from his backyard to his front yard (a simple tasked I managed to not be very good at). He and I were at the video store one night, looking for something to bring home and watch with the family. While going back and forth about this option or that, I learned that his daughters (ages five and seven at the time) had never seen Oz. That night, they finally did.

Oh, and how pissed they were when it began. All through dinner I’d amped them up–an incredible world, wonderful songs, trees that whip apples at your head. But the opening credit sequence, in black and white of all things, had them feeling duped.

“Just wait,” I said.

And to their credit, they did. Grumpy and bored, they settled in. But I noticed as the tornado began to bear down on Dorothy’s farm, they sat up a bit. And having landed, as Dorothy stepped out from her home into the Technicolor glory of Oz, they were… absolutely… still. From that moment, they were completely taken with it.

The Wizard of Oz is special, able to completely transcend the small screen we all watched it on that evening.

Better to have seen it on TV than never at all. But now here is a chance to see the Wizard in at the beautiful Heights Theatre this Thursday.

The great and powerful deserves nothing less.

The Wizard of Oz screens at the Heights Theater Thursday night at 7:30. Purchase tickets here.



In light of the disappearance of Malaysian Arlines flight MH370 (and a dozen other airline tragedies where we watch the headlines unfold the narrative), we’ve all tried to imagine what happened and what it was like. Charlie Victor Romeo sheds a horrifying light on the scenarios in the cockpit when things go terribly wrong. Charlie Victor Romeo was initially a stage play that, in 1999, proceeded to run for eight sold-out months in a small theater on the Lower East side of New York City. The play took the black box recording of six real airplane tragedies and acted them out, using the dialogue verbatim. Fifteen years later, the same people responsible for the stage play have brought the experience to the big screen. And what an experience it is. Because the dialogue is taken directly from the cockpit voice recorder, this is a script that could not be written from the imagination, full of the technical jargon, fear, and rational of professionals functioning on overdoses of adrenaline. A mash-up of drama and documentary, Charlie Victor Romeo is one of the most gripping movies of the year.

Charlie Victor Romeo screens Monday, June 2 and Tuesday, June 3 at 7:00 and 9:00pm. Advanced tickets are available at with no service charge.