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‘The Friedkin Connection’ a must-read for film buffs, everyone else

 the friedkin connection by William Friedkin

the friedkin connection by William Friedkin

William Friedkin, director of The French Connection and The Exorcist way back when, and of Killer Joe last year, has written a memoir. Sort of.

You won’t learn much from it about Friedkin’s personal life, and it has no gossip about Hollywood people that isn’t related to what they do on the set (Al Pacino always shows up late), but it’s a must read for its anecdotes about how movies get made – in terms of financing, casting and shooting scenes.

I have been teaching film for 45 years and have a short list of necessary books. None is as entertaining as The Friedkin Connection, especially where he devotes 170 pages to his two best-known pictures. The French Connection involved bribing a New York City transit official and driving “twenty-six blocks at ninety miles an hour, through busy intersections, through red lights, with no traffic control, no permits, no safeguards of any kind” to get the footage that made its car chase so dynamic. The account of filming The Exorcist is filled with countless stories that leave you shaking your head in wonder that it ever made it to the screen. And then there’s Marvin the Torch, the arsonist who lends a hand with Sorcerer.

If you have only hazy memories of these films and others during his spotty 50-year career, reading The Friedkin Connection will have you checking out the holdings at the CPL or adding to your Netflix queue. It is great fun.

Robert Pingree


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