The French Connection (1971)

The French Connection is a film that sets out to show it like it is. Nothing is glamorized in any way and the audience is certainly not expected to identify with or even like the lead character. It uses documentary-style realism to paint a bleak image of New York City and the streets that provide the backdrop for the action. At a time when films are becoming increasingly heavy handed, it’s quite nice to revisit something that doesn’t feel the need to force emotions onto the viewer. It is what it is and you can take away from it as much, or as little, as you want.

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Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)

Last Train from Gun Hill is an undeservedly overlooked western from the great John Sturges. The film was made just two years after the successful Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which featured two of the same actors, Kirk Douglas and Earl Holliman. In Last Train from Gun Hill, Sturges wastes no time setting up the plot for us. Catherine Morgan, a full-blooded Native American is brutally raped and murdered while returning home with her son. The boy, Petey, manages to escape with one of the assailants horses and rides to town amidst the shrill screams of his mother. Back in the town of Pawlee, Marshall Matt Morgan (Douglas) is entertaining the local kids with stories of his past adventures. Once his son makes it to town, Morgan frantically rides out to find that his wife has been murdered and that one of the horses bears a saddle belonging to an old friend. Despite the urgings of his father-in-law to seek vengeance, Morgan vows to bring the men who did this to justice. He boards the next train to Gun Hill to pay his old friend a visit.

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