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Doyle's memorable cry of "Mickey Mantle sucks!" during the cold turkey sequence was the source of much trouble for the film makers and their legal department. Producer Robert L. Rosen had to track down Mickey Mantle to obtain his permission for the reference. After a long phone call, Rosen flew out to Mantle's home in Dallas with a print of the film, which was screened for him and his lawyer. When Gene Hackman uttered the line, Mantle surprised Rosen not only by roaring with laughter but also insisting that they watched the rest of the film because both he and his lawyer were enjoying it so much. Mantle later happily signed a release waiver and the line stayed in the film.
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Gene Hackman almost passed on this film. He felt that the length of time between the original and the sequel would hurt the film's chances for success.
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In planning the climactic chase in which Doyle pursues Charnier across Marseilles, director John Frankenheimer wasn't aware that Gene Hackman suffered from knee problems. Despite this, Hackman went ahead and filmed the entire chase without a double, badly inflaming his knee by the time he was through. He has said that Doyle's expressions of pain and determination as the chase progressed didn't require much acting.
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For the French version of the film, the character of Popeye was given a thick American accent in order to allow sequences where he encounters linguistic problems to make sense, not without occasional absurdities (for example, the main character has no trouble in arguing extensively and in an articulate way in French with local policemen but can't find a decent way to order a simple glass of whiskey).
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The heroin processing lab was built by the Corsican mafia, and was so realistic that the entire set had to be guarded by French police when it wasn't being used by the film crew. The mafia also advised on the methods used by drug smugglers to get heroin in the US (concealing the drug in freighter weights) and, according to John Frankenheimer, organized the permits for the traffic jam during the chase at the end of the film.
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Alain Charnier's villa is the same building used in the original film, The French Connection (1971).
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Eddie Egan, the real-life New York cop who was the basis for the character of Jimmy Doyle in The French Connection (1971), really did have a try-out for the Yankees in his youth, and played alongside a then-unknown Mickey Mantle.
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Whenever Fernando Rey is speaking French in the film, his voice is dubbed by a French actor.
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According to producer Robert L. Rosen, Pete Hamill's uncredited rewrite of the screenplay took place over three days shortly before filming began, and virtually all dialog spoken in the movie was written by Hamill.
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One of the first sequels to feature the original title with a numeral, a practice that is now common-place.
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Apart from Ed Lauter, Gene Hackman is the only American member of the cast.
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After this film, "20th Century Fox" were planning a third "French Connection" movie. Gene Hackman was going to play "Popeye" Doyle once again and he was going to be teamed with comedian Richard Pryor as his on-screen partner. Planned for release in 1979, the movie never happened.
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When this film opened in Britain, some four months after its American opening, it was, most oddly, advertised, not as "French Connection II", but as "The French Connection, Number 2", and was referred to as such in several reviews (some of which even commented on the title change). However, British moviegoers who went to see the film discovered that the title was actually still "French Connection II", with Roman numerals and no definite article. It has always been referred to by its proper title when shown on television, as well in its video and DVD versions.
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This is the first movie in Hollywood history to have a title and just 2 after it. The Godfather Part II was the first sequel to have a number in it; but that was proceeded by "Part." French Connection was the first to have the title and just a number after it.
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In the last foot chase 2 shots are supposedly from the first person perspective of Gene Hackman. The wrist seen is bare and is obviously that of a cameraman. Gene Hackman is wearing a sports jacket and his wrist is entirely covered.
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They never explain why they use this cartoon character as the name of the protagonist.
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In contrast with The French Connection (1971), this sequel is a completely original story, and not based on any real events. The man who inspired Alain Charnier was a drug lord called Jean Jehan, who had indeed escaped back to France where he was later arrested; however, he couldn't be extradited to the USA because the two countries didn't have an extradition treaty. He later died peacefully in France instead of being shot by an American police man.
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