The French Connection is a classic movie and has one of the best car chases in any movie. It won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1971 and still holds up today.

If you want to see The French Connection, I suggest you dig out your physical copy. The digital version has now been edited to take out a racial slur. The cut is only 10 seconds, but that’s hardly the point. In the movie Gene Hackman’s character, Popeye Doyle, is a racist, not to mention a misogynist and an alcoholic.

In the movie, Doyle uses the language in context, showing what a racist he is, which fits into the story and character. I’m not defending the use of the word, but it fits the narrative. This is too much though and the Criterion Channel, iTunes and Turner Classic Movies have only the censored version on their streaming services.

Who did the edit?

An interesting question is, who did the edit? Disney owns Twentieth Century Fox, who produced the movie. The edited version of the movie was noticed in May. However, Criterion and TCM have done nothing to correct the edit. Criterion is known for producing physical media, enhanced and in its original format. This doesn’t seem to be the case for The French Connection though.

Most streaming services will run a disclaimer at the start of a movie or TV show, if it contains offensive language, not just edit them out. HBO (Max) had this run at the start of Blazing Saddles:

“Racist language and attitudes pervade the film. But those attitudes are espoused by characters who are portrayed here as explicitly small-minded, ignorant bigots.”

Thin end of the wedge

It seemed like the edit for The French Connection slipped under the radar and no one noticed at first. So where does this end? A little edit here, a little trim there and the movie is changed. Lucas added the edit of Greedo shooting first, completely changing the dynamic of Han Solo. One small edit, one big change.

It seems strange to edit a movie like The French Connection as well, to be honest. Look at Django Unchained. Is that going to be edited or cut down?

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