Wrap Shot: The French Connection

Viewers sometimes assume Owen Roizman, ASC simply shot this true-crime tale with “available light.” They would be wrong.

David E. Williams

Filming The French Connection (1971) on location in New York City, director William Friedkin and Owen Roizman, ASC (from left, at center) confer at the camera while setting up an extreme long-lens shot. With its gritty, documentary-style visual approach to an intricate true-crime tale, viewers sometimes assumed the picture was shot with “available light.” 

When asked, Roizman’s reply was often with a wry smile: “Yeah, everything ‘available’ on the truck.” The cinematographer earned an Academy Award nomination for his outstanding and influential camerawork in the picture.

He will be honored on November 11 with an Honorary Oscar for his exemplary career and longstanding service to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The French Connection was selected as one of the ASC 100 Milestone Films in Cinematography of the 20th Century.

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