Trailer for The French Connection (1971), which screens for free tonight in Bryant Park
The always appreciative audience that gathers for the free HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival series on Monday evenings is typically a happy and most vocal bunch. When the movie being projected on the midtown Manhattan park's big screen is set in New York City, like tonight (July 5th)'s 9pm screening of The French Connection, the energy in the thousands-strong crowd that packs the lawn tends to be even louder than usual! So expect a lot of cheering along this evening as Gene Hackman, who won an Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of tough smack-talking NYPD narcotics cop Popeye Doyle, runs around New York City in this 1971 William Friedkin directed film that features the greatest car & subway chase of all time.
A New York City summer institution for many years, the Monday night free film series at Bryant Park, which typically screens American classics from the sixties & seventies but sometimes movies from the fifties and earlier, is a social hub where for the four hours prior to the film screening, New Yorkers secure their spot on the vast lawn, have picnics and happily socialize (even the possible thunderstorm is considered a minor distraction).
Until a few years ago it used to be you could arrive anytime during the day to spread out your blanket and secure your vantage point, but after some folks starting showing up as early as 10am to mark their territory for the 8:30 or 9pm screening, the rules changed, so the earliest you can get on the lawn is now 5pm.