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The car chase scene in Steve McQueen's Bullitt will always be my choice for the greatest sequence of its kind, but a close second appeared in William Friedkin's The French Connection.
In that scene, Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (Gene Hackman) is forced to chase down an elevated train by driving like a madman through the crowded New York City streets. It's no easy task, as the cop repeatedly hits other vehicles, nearly kills innocent pedestrians and crashes into a wall or two on his quest to keep pace with the train. It's a fantastic driving sequence and they really don't make them like this anymore.
AFI had an open forum interview with director William Friedkin and the filmmaker tells some really great stories about how he and the crew got the scene they wanted. Friedkin talks about how he motivated famous stunt driver Bill Hickman to give him his best effort. When Hickman approached Friedkin to ask how he thought the scene went, the director told him he was disappointed and that he expected more from a driver who came so highly recommended. Offended, Hickman told Friedkin to get in the car and that's basically what wound up in the final cut of the film.
Friedkin also spends some time talking about how they managed to get the city to let them tie up a train car for their own personal use for the scene. I don't want to spoil the story here, because it has a hilarious punchline, but definitely stick around until the end of the clip to see it for yourself.
Hit the jump to hear the famed director talk about the experience of shooting one of action cinema's most famous scenes.