I watched The French Connection 2 last night for the first time since I was a kid. (Yeah, I know — but believe me, it was just one of many inappropriate films that my folks took me to see while I was in grade school.)
Much as I generally love 70s cop flicks — and specifically love The French Connection — this 1975 sequel turned out to be a real downer in a number of ways. Gene Hackman is great, as always (as with George C. Scott, I have trouble thinking of a film that he was less than excellent in), and mid-70s Marseille looks appealingly grimy, but most of the flick is a turgid mess. The plot is difficult to follow (and to swallow), and the "fish out of water" scenes where Hackman's Popeye Doyle character tries to interact and communicate with French people are almost as agonizingly long as the scenes in which he's (spoiler alert!) trying to withdraw from heroin.
That said, it does contain some snappy hard-boiled dialogue, including a scene where a wasted Doyle tells his uncomprehending French host, Inspector Barthelmy (Bernard Fresson), about his failed baseball career. I couldn't find a clip of the scene on YouTube, but someone has helpfully posted the transcript at IMDB, which I am re-posting here. When it comes to great baseball bits from non-baseball-related films, this scene seems to have largely fallen between the cracks. But as far as I'm concerned, the oft-lauded "1975 World Series" conversation in Good Will Hunting doesn't have a patch on this:
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: [drunk] You know, I had a tryout with the Yankees. You know what the Yankees are?
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: Yes. As in "Yankee go home."
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Yeah. NO! No, uh... Uh... no, the Yankee baseball... baseball team. Yeah, I had a tryout with them and... they sent me down to the... the minors. And the poblem... poblem... problem was that... there was a fuckin' kid there, and he was... the fastest bastard, he was fuckin' FAST. And he... he played shortstop at the time, and he... he could hit the ball a fuckin' ton. A fuckin' TON! You know what "fuck" means?
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: Yeah.
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Yeah. Well, I was in spring training... and I saw this kid... and I just immediately took the test for cops. That kid was Mickey Mantle. You know who Mickey Mantle was? You fuckhead?
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: No, I can't say that I know.
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: You don't know who Mickey Mantle was? Huh? How about Willie Mays? Say hey! Willie Mays! The mighty Willie Mays! See?
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: No.
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Max Lanier - a frog. Jean Kiley. You remember Jean Kiley?
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: Gene Kelly?
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Gene... Not Gene Kelly! Jean Kiley! The fuckin' skier!
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: Oh - you mean Jean-Claude Killy.
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: That's what I said! Yes. Fuck, yeah. Good athlete. Well, and... Whitey Ford. Goddamn. You know who Whitey Ford was? Oh... shit. He was a dandy little southpaw. That's what we called him. He was a dandy little southpaw.
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: Southpaw?
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: Yeah. He was a lefty.
Inspector Henri Barthelemy: You mean a communist?
Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle: No, he was a Republican. But he was somethin', I tell you. He was somethin'...