The French Connection: Film fans fume as classic 1971 movie is censored without explanation

‘This is an absolutely unacceptable move,’ one person raged

Jacob Stolworthy
Wednesday 07 June 2023 17:46 BST
The French Connection trailer

Film fans are expressing their fury after a scene in The French Connection was censored without explanation.

Those watching William Friedkin’s 1971 drama on US streaming platform Criterion Channel were left confused by a clunky edit during a scene roughly 10 minutes into the film.

The sequence, set in the New York police precinct, features a conversation between detectives “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider), in which the former utters a racial slur.

The six-second sequence has been completely removed, and the edited version instead cuts to midway through the pair’s conversation.

Those who purchased digital copies of the film are re-watching the scene back, and noticing that the copy they bought has also been amended to reflect the change.

Disney has been accused of censoring the film; the studio has owned the rights to The French Connection since its acquisition of Fox back in 2019.

However, the film remains unedited on Disney+ in the UK and Canada.

The Independent has contacted both Criterion Channel and Disney for comment.

Film fans are expressing their anger at edits being made to a classic film without fanfare or explanation.

Writer Sam Adams remarked: “The uncensored FRENCH CONNECTION should be the only one in circulation, whether on TV or in theaters. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Friedkin knew exactly what having his detective protagonist use it said about him.”

The ‘French Connection’ scene that’s been censored

Author Drew McWeeney added: “This s*** is insidious, and their license gives them the right to alter it no matter what.”

Film curator Alexander Woell pointed out that Scheider “specifically said the scene resonated with audiences at the time”, adding: “Cultural context is an important part of media literacy. Historical revisionism is not the answer.”

Meanwhile, film fan @DamnFoolCrusade said: “This is ridiculous and an absolutely unacceptable move on Disney’s part. It seems it was done without thinking.”

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