After The French Connection: Popeye Doyle (1986, directed by Peter Levin)

In this made-for-television movie, a pre-Married With Children Ed O’Neill takes over the role that won Gene Hackman an Oscar.

Popeye Doyle (played by O’Neill) is a hard-drinking, hard-living Irish police detective working out of New York City.  Along with his more emotionally stable partner, Tony Parese (Matthew Laurence), Doyle spends his time busting drug dealers, going on stakeouts, and chasing junkies through the mean streets of NYC.  When Jill, a beautiful young model (Audrey Landers) turns up dead, everyone assumes that it was an overdose.  Doyle, however, has his doubts.  All of her friends say that Jill never used drugs and, when Popeye searches her apartment, he doesn’t find any evidence that would point to her being junkie.  Instead, he finds tapes that Jill made for various wealthy men.  Convinced that Jill was murdered, Popeye is soon investigating the type of powerful people who are not used to being investigated.

In 1986, someone at NBC thought it would be a good idea to launch a series based on The French Connection.  Since Gene Hackman was busy making movies and hadn’t come anywhere close to appearing on television since losing the role of the father on The Brady Bunch to Robert Reed, the role of Popeye was given to Ed O’Neill.  At that time, O’Neill was an unknown who had appeared in a handful of plays, two movies, and one Red Lobster commercial.  The movie, Popeye Doyle, was meant to serve as a pilot for the proposed television series.  Needless to say, the film did not lead to a series.  If it had, Ed O’Neill probably wouldn’t have been available to take the role of Al Bundy on Married With Children.

O’Neill is probably the main reason that anyone today would want to see Popeye Doyle, which is otherwise a routine cop movie.  Except for a few scenes where he seems to be trying too hard to imitate Hackman’s iconic performance, O’Neill brings authentic working class swagger to the role.  He drinks too much, he often says the wrong thing, and he pisses off all the right people.  There are some scenes where O’Neill seems to blend right in with the pilot’s gritty visual style.  (It was shot on location in Ed Koch-era New York.)  There are other scenes where he gets so manic that he seems to be a man possessed.  In the scene where he watches Candy Clark do an impromptu striptease, O’Neill as Doyle gets so excited that you worry about him.  Interestingly, Doyle wanders through the film dressed like a slob and acting like a schlub but every beautiful woman he meets wants to have sex with him.  In that regard, it is easy to imagine the movie as being some sort of elaborate daydream that Al Bundy had while selling shoes.

As for the events in The French Connection, they’re mentioned briefly at the start of the movie, when a reporter asks Doyle about that time he accidentally shot and killed a federal agent.  Popeye Doyle still has many scenes that are meant to remind viewers of the first film.  There’s a stakeout scene, where Doyle and Parese sit out in the cold while their target enjoys a nice night.  There’s a scene where Doyle works undercover as a bum.  And, of course, there’s a car chase, though it’s nowhere near as exciting as the one from The French Connection.

Popeye Doyle has never been officially released on DVD (or even VHS), though it is available on YouTube.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Last Ride: FAMILY PLOT (Universal 1976)

cracked rear viewer

Critics in 1976 were divided over Alfred Hitchcock’s FAMILY PLOT, which turned out to be his final film. Some gave it faint praise, in an “it’s okay” kinda way; others decried it as too old-fashioned, saying the Master of Suspense had lost his touch – and was out of touch far as contemporary filmmaking goes. Having recently viewed the film for the first time, I’m blessed with the gift of hindsight, and can tell you it’s more than “okay”. FAMILY PLOT is a return to form, and while it may not be Top Shelf Hitchcock, it certainly holds up better than efforts made that same year by Hitch’s contemporaries George Cukor (THE BLUE BIRD), Elia Kazan (THE LAST TYCOON), and Vincente Minnelli (A MATTER OF TIME).

Hitchcock reunited with screenwriter Ernest Lehman (NORTH BY NORTHWEST) to concoct a devilishly clever black comedy about phony psychic Blanche Tyler who, along with…

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Here’s The Trailer For The Kitchen

The Kitchen, which will be coming out in August, is one of those films about which I am cautiously optimistic.

It’s about three women in 1970s New York.  Each one is married to a member of the Irish mafia.  When their husbands all end up getting arrested by the FBI, the women take control of the rackets themselves.  This, of course, brings them into conflict with the old and patriarchal Italian mob.

It is it a comedy?  Well, it does star TIffany Haddish and Melissa McCarthy as two of the of the wives.  However, though they both may be thought of as being primarily comedic actresses, Haddish is a critical favorite right now and McCarthy has two Oscar nominations despite the fact that she’s appeared in some truly terrible movies over the past few years.  Both of them have proven that they can handle drama just as well as comedy.

So, is this a drama?  Well, as you can see in the trailer below, it does appear to feature Elisabeth Moss falling in love with violence.  In fact, the trailer features a few people getting killed but it also appears to take a rather jaunty approach to all the death.  “Oh look!  He’s sitting on the toilet and he got shot!”

So, I’m going to guess that this film is going to try to balance both comedy and drama.  That approach, when it works, can lead to wonderful things.  And when it doesn’t work …. well, let’s not even think about it.

I will say this — the trailer’s glimpse of 42nd Street is gorgeous!

Anyway, here’s the trailer for Widows …. I mean, The Kitchen:

Here’s The Trailer For The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance!

Stoners rejoice!

Netflix has a Dark Crystal series that will be dropping on August 30th, 2019.  The series will be ten episodes long and will apparently explore the world of the original film.  The theme appears to be one of rebellion.  Then again, rebellion appears to be the theme of everything nowadays.  Even the authority figures say that they’re rebelling against something.  I guess it truly is …. THE AGE OF RESISTANCE!

Anyway, someone will undoubtedly review this show for the site so hopefully, it’ll be good.  Or, at the very least, it’ll be better than the second season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  Seriously, we deserve a Carribbean cruise after making it through that.

Here’s the Dark Crystal trailer!  I hope you’ll trip like I do while watching it.

(Someone out there will get the joke and that’s all that matters.)

Here’s The Trailer For Rambo: Last Blood!

So, today, twitter is all abuzz over the trailer for the upcoming Rambo film.  Apparently this film, which is called Rambo: Last Blood, will be the final time that Sylvester Stallone will ever play John Rambo and it features Rambo coming home and fighting a Mexican drug cartel.

Look, to be honest, this trailer pretty much looks like a typical Sylvester Stallone trailer.  It could just as easily be the trailer for another Expendables film, except for the fact that Rambo has become an iconic figure in the annals of cinematic mayhem.  Just the mere mention of the name gets certain filmgoers excited.

Of course, I watched First Blood earlier this year and I was surprised to discover just how good a film it actually was.  And, of course, action film enthusiasts are still talking about that scene in Rambo where the title character kills the population of a small country in a matter of minutes.  So, I get why people are excited about this trailer but, at the same time, it still feels a bit generic.

This trailer also features Old Town Road because God knows it’s not like that song is currently overplayed or anything.

There’s one thing that I do think we definitely have to give Sylvester Stallone credit for.  I’ve read that, during the first part of his stardom, Stallone wasn’t always pleasant to work with and that he sometimes resented being thought of as just being an action star.  But, during the twilight of his career, it would appear that Stallone has definitely made a sort of peace with the roles that define him.  He understands what he does well and he tries to give his audience what they came for.  I’m predicting that, when Stallone’s 90 years old, he’ll probably still be making movies where he beats up terrorists.  By this point, of course, the terrorists might be attacking a retirement home but Stallone’s going to be there to put them in their place.

And we’ll all be better off for it!

Anyway, here’s the trailer: