The French Connection is justly celebrated for one of the most dynamic car chases of all time, though it wins no points for public endangerment: it was reportedly created simply by setting cameras up along uncleared streets in NYC, then telling star Gene Hackman to floor it. Nevertheless, it’s a harrowing, incredible sequence befitting the down-and-dirty police procedural that surrounds it. Director William Friedkin stripped policework of anything glamorous or romantic, presenting cops as hard-working Joes trudging their way through boring (though not always safe) details in their search for the bad guy du jour. It set the standard that cop movies have followed ever since and snagged 5 Academy Awards in the process, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. It opened today in 1971.