#93: The French Connection (AFI) vs. Downfall (IMDb)
Downfall. I would assume most people have seen a part of this movie, but not in its entirety. You might think you’ve never seen any of it, but if you’ve ever been sent a clip where Hitler is ranting about some football team, political figure, video game or anything else in the known universe, then you’ve seen part of Downfall. My first contact with this meme was about the whole Taylor Swift/Kanye West debacle at the MTV VMAs. Cracked me up (severe language alert)
Since then, I’ve seen the clip a dozen times about other things. Downfall itself is about Hitler’s final days. The film is well acted, and supposedly factually based. But it is utterly depressing and baffling in a “how in the world could this really have happened?” sort of way. I’m not sure I would’ve called Downfall a Top 100, but I’m willing to cut it some slack because the meme has been such a pop culture phenomenon.
The French Connection. Theoretically, I understand why The French Connection is in the Top 100 and won Best Picture. I understand why it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry as being significant in some way. It’s pretty much the grandfather of the modern-day anti-hero action star (John McClane, meet your granddad, Jimmy Doyle).
There’s a lot of violence in the movie: whoops, just shot that guy in the back, whoops, just accidentally killed that FBI agent, whoops, just beat up on a bar full of black people – and that’s just what the “good” guys did. Of course, a blended line between “good” and “bad” is the point of the entire film. There’s no happy ending and everything has a gritty feel to it.
It does have a fabulous car/train chase scene, I’ll give you that. But watching the film overall now, it just seems dated; early 70s toughness personified. And it could’ve been entitled “Following Bad Guys on a City Street 101” – seriously, the police tailing someone made up half the movie. Got a little tedious.
I’ll admit, it’s possible because I was watching Connection while running 10 miles on a treadmill my perception might be a little jaded. Whatever. It still wins this week’s battle. But against a stronger film than Downfall it wouldn’t have. That this film makes it onto AFI’s Top 100 while Metropolis doesn’t? Something’s not right there.
So the score stands AFI – 6 to IMDb – 2. I got a little out of order; next week is Goodfellas vs. Up. Still sigh.