EDITORIAL – Santa picks his feet in Poughkeepsie. Which is exactly why William Friedkin’s The French Connection is a better Christmas movie than Die Hard. Everyone talks about Die Hard as being the first action Christmas movie. But Friedkin’s The French Connection is also a great Christmas movie as well as a balls to the wall action thriller. And Santa picks his feet in Poughkeepsie in it. What more do you want?

Here’s Why The French Connection Is A Christmas Movie

It’s obvious when you think about it. The whole film is about a friendly man with a beard from far, far away trying to bring presents to everyone in America. What could be more festive than that? Nothing, that’s what. It’s got more festive spirit than some f*cking Coca-Cola truck trying to force sugar down the necks of already morbidly obese children.

Santa Picks His Feet In Poughkeepsie

The film also boasts cuddly Gene Hackman playing everyman racist, Popeye Doyle. Popeye even dresses up as Santa to surprise one of his friends as part of a jolly Christmas prank. Once he’s caught up with his buddy, they share a laugh and a joke about picking their feet in Poughkeepsie. This scene is full of festive cheer as they giggle and prance through the junk-strewn waste grounds of New York, avoiding the used needles and rats as they go. Ho-ho-ho!

Father Christmas Has Happy Little Elves

But Fernando Rey’s real Santa isn’t working on his own. He has his happy little elves in the shape of New York mob goodfella, Sal Boca and mysterious, psychotic hitman Pierre Nicoli. With lots of hard work, they want to help Santa distribute little presents in nickel and dime bags to all the happy children of New York who have been good this year. And luckily for them, Popeye ‘Grinch’ Doyle is a lousy shot.

Next – Why The French Connection II Is An Easter Movie About The Resurrection


HOLLYWOOD- Sir Edwin Fluffer once again delves into his personal memoirs – soon to be published as ‘Not THAT Kind of Fluffer!!!’ – to recall the an incident at the Cannes Film Festival.

Dear Debbie Reynolds,

Just back from the premiere of The Great Gatsby, and you’ll never guess who was in it: dear little Leo DiCaprio! Can’t remember what part he played and if truth be told it dragged on a little. I fell asleep before the bit where the boat sinks. Got back to the hotel and found out that some bugger had pinched my cuff links! Tell Carrie I’ve got her Duty Free, she can pay me when I get back.

Lots of love,


Dear Gerard Depardieu,

Gerry! I asked the waiter at the Gilded Cheese if you’d been in lately and he tells me you’ve chipped off to Moscow. Bloody cold I’d imagine. The sun’s out here in Cannes, and a lot of the old crowd are meeting up for drinks later. Won’t be the same without you darling, but at least it’ll give the local gendarmerie the night off. I told you they weren’t really sisters didn’t I?



Dear Gene Hackman,

We’re missing you at Cannes this year, Gene old pal. Bloody Stevie Spielberg keeps trying to catch my eye because he still wants us to do the My Own Private Idaho sequel. He’s giving me all the ‘people want to see how the characters have grown’ nonsense, but I’m not falling for that again, and neither should you. I said to give Harvey Keitel a ring, he’ll whip it out for anyone.
Ask Clint if he can pop ‘round to see if I’ve got any mail.

Chin chin,


Dear Jack Nicholson,

Having a lovely time at Cannes this year Jacky: the Mayor says all is forgiven and we’re both welcome back any time, so that’s good news. ‘Eau under the pont’ as I told him, but I’m on best behaviour just in case. We don’t want Interpol getting snooty again. I’ve found what room Jerry Lewis is staying in, so guess who’s getting my bar bill!

Ever yours,



More 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams. This episode we take a trip to the South at the height of the Civil Rights struggle to witness Mississippi Burning.

Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning got a hard time on its release for suggesting – it was felt – that the Civil Rights struggle was won by some well-meaning and white FBI agents doing honest police work in the face of vile opposition. The film is in fact far less ambitious than that. It’s really a murder procedural played out against the background of the Civil Rights struggle. More Dirty Harry in the South than Selma.

When three activists go missing in 1964,  Rupert Anderson (Gene Hackman) and Alan Ward (Willem Dafoe) are sent to the small town on the Mississippi to investigate. Here they meet resistance from the local law enforcement, the major and the Klan friendly citizenry. The black populace are even more unwilling to be seen to be helping as they are in constant danger from violent reprisals, church burnings and lynchings. Despite his relative youth, Ward is the superior who insists that everything will be done according to procedure. Anderson, himself a good ole boy and once a Sheriff of a similar town, however believes in breaking the rules to get results and is more than comfortable with fighting fire with fire. They are – to coin a phrase – chalk and cheese, but the cliché of the mismatched pair doesn’t really matter when you have two actors of this calibre firing on all engines. Hackman in particular is fantastic, whether he’s wooing the locals or grabbing Michael Rooker by the crotch until Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer weeps like a child.

With great support from a young Frances McDormand as the wife to Brad Dourif’s brutal deputy sheriff, as well as Dourif himself and Stephen Tobolowsky and R. Lee Ermey as the mayor, Mississippi Burning also looks fantastic thanks to an on form Alan Parker  who had just made Angel Heart a year earlier. Having taken something of a dip post-Commitments, Parker disappeared, leaving erst while rival Ridley Scott as the senior Brit made good, but with a body of work that includes these two films as well as Pink Floyd the Wall, Fame, Birdy and the amazing Bugsy Malone, a reappraisal is long overdue.

For more of our 47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams CLICK HERE.


HOLLYWOOD – In an EXCLUSIVE, the Studio Exec is proud to present an extract from Gene Hackman’s new novel Payback at Morning Peak.

Chapter One. The Old Hand Hangs up his Gun

The sun was westering over the ridge and the frickering breeze from the West held the tang of rain to come. Rubbing his almost bald pate, Geoff Hackford turned his gaze from the horizon to the task at hand, cleaning his gun one last time before hanging it up for good.

He’d fought it off for long enough: age and enemies and scar tissue had done for him, but the memories still came like so many lonely ghosts. The time that criminal Frenchie had got away, the way he’d been cheated by General Zod of the US Cavalry and even when he’d almost died rescuing those people from the capsized paddle steam The Poseidon on the Mississippi.  Surely, that had been an adventure. But time it was to sit on his porch and enjoy a conversation with the town folk who passed. Not The Conversation, but a Conversation. And if the Tenenbaum’s wanted to invite him for some chow, well all the better!

 To sleep soon. With the sun down. He too would sink, first to sleep then finally obscure rest. 

Telegram! Telegram! The urchin had slapped it into his hand and was running away before his hand had even settled into his pocket in search of coin.

He tore it open and read the words:

desperately need you back to play gruff patriarch in quirky comedy stop come at once stop expenses and 5 percent of the gross stop wes anderson stop

He laughed to himself as he replaced the gun in the holster. Maybe his fighting days weren’t over quite yet.  


PARIS – Luc Besson, French film director of such classics as Nikita and Leon, as well as producer of the Taken series, has announced that he is to produce and direct the long awaited sequel to the French Connection.

“I’ve talked with Gene Hackman and Bill Friedkin and they are both happy for me to do it”, said Luc. 

In fact, Bill Friedkin told me that he had always envisioned it as a trilogy but the seventies was so lame when it came to making decent movies that no one would put up the money for a trilogy.

What do you bring to this film which is considered a classic of the genre?

I agree. It is a classic, but one thing always gave me Le Hump. This was the French Connection, right? But where was France? Or the French? Even Fernando Rey (who played the original villain) was Spanish. So in our version, I added some French things which will make it a real FRENCH connection. Ooh la la! As we say, constantly.

 The official synopsis reads:

Joey ‘Popeye’ Doyle Jr. (Chris Pine) and Det. Buddy (Channing Tatum) are on the trail of a mysterious high end drug dealer, called Frenchie (Jean Reno). They track him down to Paris, a large city in France, where Frenchie maintains his cover as an onion seller, riding a bicycle and wearing a stripy jumper and a beret. Then there is a very exciting bicycle chase and they are fighting with baguettes and riding bicycles. And they get mixed up with Le Tour de France! 

The French Connection 3: Attack on Paris will begin shooting in August. 


Bob Hope, George Burns, John Travolta, the greats never retire and neither will I. Frankly I can’t afford to. With so many ex-wives and children to support, as well as an ongoing civil dispute with Debbie Reynolds, my agent is under strict instructions never to say no to anything.

Don’t get me wrong, every time the phone rings I’m filled with excitement in case I get the chance to save money on my car insurance, but more often than not it’s someone from the studio telling me I should’ve been on set an hour ago. Critics have said that this attitude toward my craft has led me to appear in several pictures that have done nothing to improve my somewhat tarnished reputation, but I’ve got two words for them: John Cleese. 

With this in mind I’ve just signed on the line that’s dotted to appear in the new Star Wars movie. I’ll be providing the voice for C3PO’s cheeky but lovable nephew, and they’re hoping to get another Brit in to keep me company and play my comedy sidekick. I gave them Mike Gambon’s number, because he’s not proud either. 
I thought it would be money for old rope, but they’re spending so much on the special effects that there’s precious little left for yours truly. They even asked if they could have my garage door to patch up a hole on the Millennium Falcon. 
My only worry is that there are meant to be a couple of sequels and at my age there’s every chance I’ll be cadging a celestial cigarette off Bette Davis before they come out, but we’ll see how we get on. Death never stopped Gene Hackman, but that’s another story…


HOLLYWOOD – A new film based on the Paul Gallico novel The Poseidon Adventure is to begin filming right this minute.

The film is to be directed by Werner Herzog and will star Matthew Broderick as a troubled priest (played in the original by Gene Hackman) who has to put aside his shaky faith in order to rescue the passengers of a luxury cruise ship after it is hit by a tidal wave. Studio Exec had the opportunity to speak to Herzog while dodging machine gun fire.

So a disaster movie, what attracts you to the genre?

Life is a disaster and so for me it stands as the perfect metaphor for the position of the human soul in the abyss of an obsidian darkness that isolates one totally and in which the soul trembles and quakes weeping and beating its chest if a soul can be said to have a chest. 

And what relationship does your film have to the 2006 remake Poseidon?

What remake? I don’t understand. 

The remake starring Kurt Russell and Richard Dreyfuss? Directed by Wolfgang Petersen?

You’re kidding me right. There’s a remake of this film already? You have to be (as they say) shitting me. Seriously. I spoke to Wolfgang yesterday. Now it makes sense why he couldn’t stop laughing. It’s the Bad Lieutenant all over again. Oh, hell.

Well no one actually saw the film.

I’ve been going to meetings, talking to studio heads and no one has mentioned this other film. Wait a minute, did you say Richard Dreyfuss is in it? Because I cast him as the ship’s captain. Why didn’t he say anything? All he wanted to talk about was money.

So what are your plans?

 I’ll make it nevertheless. I mean why not. The money they give me for this I can film seventeen documentaries. Perhaps everyone will have forgotten the other film.  


Oh, you’ve been shot. No it’s okay. The bullet went right through, see? You’ll be fine.  


SANTA FE – Hollywood legend Gene Hackman is wanted for questioning by the Santa Fe police department this morning after reports that he’s attacked several more innocent bystanders.

Hackman, who was yesterday accused of slapping homeless man Bruce Becker, is rumored to be stalking the streets of Santa Fe dressed as Santa Claus and randomly roughing up members of the public.

Postal worker Jim Rick, who was still visibly shaken after his ordeal, described his brutal encounter with the retired actor.

I’d just finished my rounds and was about to get a cup of coffee when I was grabbed from behind. Suddenly I’m being wrestled to the floor by this guy in a Santa suit and he’s shouting at me “Where’s the Heroin?” I told him I didn’t know anything about any heroin and he slapped me in the face and shouted again “Where’s the Heroin you son of a bitch?!”. Eventually somebody managed to get him off me and he ran off into an alleyway. I didn’t know it was Gene Hackman at the time. Shame as I would have asked him for his autograph.”

Other victims of the rampage tell a similar story of being set upon and Hackman demanding Heroin. Police are speculating that the ageing star is demanding the drug to feed a secret habit but celebrity psychologist Stanford Locke, has a different theory.

Mr Hackman is exhibiting classic symptoms of George C. Scott Syndrome” said a wistful Locke.

It’s something that happens to some elderly actors who have retired from show business. Basically a chemical imbalance in the brain causes the victim to replay their former characters. Obviously Mr Hackman is currently convinced he is Popeye Doyle from ‘The French Connection’ and unfortunately he will adopt other guises unless he is captured and heavily sedated”.

Locke’s bizarre theory is in danger of being proved correct after reports that Hackman has commandeered a nuclear submarine and is on his way to Russia. Fortunately his ‘Crimson Tide’ co-star Denzel Washington was on board at the time having a private tour and the US government is now praying that Washington can subdue Hackman and avert World War III.