It’s impossible to understand why William Friedkin’s semi-drug-doc beat out Stanley Kubrick’s amazing A Clockwork Orange for the 1971 Best Picture award. Surely it couldn’t have been about box office receipts…
A year before The Godfather hit the big screen (cross-reference below), this crime caper certainly pales in comparison to the power of favours owed, favours redeemed.
The acting (led by Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider) is merely OK. The real stars are the stunt drivers in the famous chase scene.
The original score from Don Ellis is a puzzle: it features a few intriguing batches of dissonances (notably the opening) to set the dramatic stage, but the low strings are often out of tune and not together. Could that have been on purpose?
Nothing has changed in the war against drugs; seeing this production again in 2021 reminds one and all just why that “victory” (think Vietnam, Afghanistan…) will never trump opportunistic greed. JWR