The Friedkin Connection

by Randy Fuller Aug 16, 2023

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, we say goodbye to another great. Director William Friedkin has left us these films by which to remember him while we drink.

When we think of Friedkin, we naturally think of The Exorcist, from 1973. That’s a film that prompted a lot of people to drink, if only to try and forget the pea-soup vomiting scenes. Of course, there were plenty of things we tried to drink away that year. Vietnam. Nixon. Watergate. Match Game ‘73. Just to name a few. Hey, maybe the devil made that 18-minute gap in the White House tapes!

Back to pea-soup vomiting. That makes us think of excessive consumption of green beverages. Or is it just me? Chartreuse, Midori and crème de menthe are perfectly good spirits to effect a green remembrance of the night’s boozing, but absinthe is my favorite green meanie. If you are skipping the viewing of The Exorcist, these verdant cocktails might come in handy on St. Patrick’s Day.

The film offered several other moments of fright, like Linda Blair’s head spinning, bed levitation, the crucifix scene, and one of the more gut-wrenching medical procedures outside of the dental sequence in Marathon Man.

Friedkin was not the first choice to direct The Exorcist. Or the second. Or the third. In fact, a good chunk of the roll call at the DGA had first crack at it. Friedkin got it, however, with a little help from the book’s author, William Peter Blatty. He thought Friedkin’s documentary background would bring an element of realism to the film. He was right.

Two sequels to The Exorcist were made, along with a short-lived television series, and now three new sequels are planned for the near future. I don’t know about you, but sequels usually drive me to drink. Get those green cocktails ready to pour.

Now, when we think of France we think of wine, right? But The French Connection is an American movie, so let’s not rush to Bordeaux. The French Connection Winery, in the Texas Hill Country, produces wines using Texas-grown Rhône grapes. Syrah, Roussanne and Viognier all grace their wine list, of course. But this winery also slaps a cowboy hat on Counoise. That’s ballsy. Their slug line, “Santé, y’all,” is a registered trademark, so be careful how you use it in your everyday life.

New Mexico’s Gruet Winery makes a highly respected sparkling wine using in-state grapes and fruit from Washington and California. It was started by a Bordeaux winemaker who apparently thought just making wine wasn’t hard enough. “Let’s do it in New Mexico!” Gruet is another French connection in American wine.

Friedkin directed The French Connection all the way to an Oscar for Best Directing. That is a bit like a wine lover becoming a Master Sommelier. It looks very good on a résumé, but once it is on your résumé, you probably don’t need a résumé anymore. They’ll be calling you.

In the 1971 classic, Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider play a couple of cops who are just trying to keep the streets of the Big Apple clean. Their dream of a drug-free NYC is way out of reach, and they know it. But Popeye Doyle will wave goodbye to that little Frenchman if it’s the last thing he does.

The pursuit of that French drug smuggler is the most tenacious thing ever put on celluloid. Friedkin has said that the car chase scene was a last-minute addition to the script and was a real seat-of-the-pants production where his documentary skills paid off. The car reportedly covered 26 blocks at high speed with nary a city permit in hand. He later said it was so dangerous that he would never stage that sort of stunt again.

Friedkin and Scheider would work together again in 1977 on Sorcerer. Do you want to talk about a bad beat? Friedkin’s Sorcerer came out in the same year as Star Wars. Consider your thunder stolen. Some say Sorcerer is a remake of 1953’s The Wages of Fear, although that “some” does not include Mr. Friedkin. He should know – he made the movie.

If Sorcerer is a forgotten classic, let me refresh your memory. Four desperate men are assigned to haul some nitroglycerin somewhere in South America. Do they have any special training for this? Of course not – if they did, it’s a documentary.  If you are watching and wondering, “Hey, where da Sorcerer at?” have no fear. It’s the name of one of the nitro-hauling trucks.

I had the pleasure of seeing Sorcerer in a beautiful 35-millimeter print, with plenty of inexpensive popcorn at the concession stand. Thank you, New Beverly Cinema! Sorcerer shows that desperate, untrained men handling explosives rarely end up in a positive situation, but usually they make a great story.

I simply didn’t have the heart to pair a Bulgarian wine called Explosion with Sorcerer. I took a similar hard pass on any wine-related item which featured Mickey Mouse in a sorcerer’s hat, and I urge you to do the same.

Família Geisse makes some of the top sparkling wines in the America from the southern hemisphere – in big, bad Brazil, in fact. If you’re feeling reckless, shake up a bottle and let it rip.

Randy Fuller
NowAnd Zin Wine –
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