1971 Certificate: 18


Gene Hackman made his name as Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle, the cantankerous narcotics cop at the cold heart of William Friedkin's masterful crime thriller. A French drug cartel is pumping heroin into America with alarming ease - until Popeye and his partner Russo (Roy Scheider) bring a little justice to les Marseillais. Winner of five Oscars including Best Picture, Actor (Hackman) and Director (Friedkin), it would have walked away with six if they handed out gongs for Best Car Chase. Next to this, Bullitt's a blank.


  • William Friedkin


  • Gene Hackman

  • Roy Scheider

  • Fernando Rey


The film centres on the exploits of Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle and Buddy Russo from the New York Narcotics division.

The film tells the true story of the biggest drugs bust in recent years, following the partners as they try to uncover the truth.

Doyle and Russo uncover facts that lead them to a sweet shop owned by a character called Boca, who lives too extravagant a lifestyle to simply run a small business.

They discover that he is involved in a massive drugs deal with a French connection.

Doyle desperately pursues the drug pushers throughout the film, leading to the penultimate car chase through the streets of New York and into the warehouse, where the film mysteriously ends.

The audience has little time to consider the events unfolding due to the fast pace.

The famous car chase, involving Gene Hackman as Doyle, is very much a template for other films such as Woody Allen's Annie Hall.

The scene involves extremely fast cutting and editing which adds pace and tension.

The film was extremely popular on its release in 1971 and picked up five Oscars, including best actor for Gene Hackman, best director for William Friedkin and best picture.

Review by IPC