William Friedkin’s 10 Most Jaw-Dropping Movie Moments

10. The French Connection (1971)

There are many great scenes in this landmark thriller starring Gene Hackman as Jimmy €œPopeye€ Doyle, a New York detective hell-bent on bringing down an international heroin smuggling operation. But The French Connection has become known for one scene above all others, and it is this which must make the list of the most jaw-dropping: the car chase. Friedkin€™s staging of this seminal chase sequence was based around one long take, filmed by Friedkin himself from inside the actual chase car, allegedly because he didn€™t have any family to rely on him at the time, and the rest of the camera crew were worried about dying. That€™s how dangerous the scene turned out to be. To get this most singular of shots, Friedkin was driven at breakneck speed by the legendary stunt driver, Bill Hickman, who topped out at 90mph during the extended take, weaving in and out of traffic beneath an elevated train, all across 26 blocks of Brooklyn streets without stopping once. Friedkin and his production team did not have permission to shoot this sequence. The road was not closed to the public. Not only that, the production had to pay the head of the New York Transit Authority $40,000 to get access to the train line, because he knew he would lose his job once the film was released. The result is one of the greatest car chase scenes ever filmed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzEloJ5venk
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Since studying Film and Art History at University, I’ve been an actor, movie stand-in and journalist. I have contributed to a number of media websites, worked on national daily newspapers, written fiction of all kinds and worked as a gravedigger.