Having recently been given a legit email address for French Connection director William Friedkin, I’ve just sent him the following:

“Greetings & salutations from Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere. I hope you’re feeling hale and hearty and doing well.

“Cutting to the chase, herewith are two very important questions about the recently discovered removal offer a brief Act One sequence in streaming versions of The French Connection (Criterion Channel, iTunes, etc) as well as in a DCP shown at Santa Monica’s Aero theatre on 5.12.23.

“The deletion of this sequence was apparently the doing of The Walt Disney Company, although it may not have been. It was apparently motivated by the speaking of a racially ugly and vulgar term by Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle character

“One, did you sign off on this deletion? According to an HE comment-threader, Criterion has issued a statement that the currently censored cut of your 1971 film, provided to them by Disney, represents a “Director’s Edit” and was therefore apparently (or at least may have been) approved by you, the auteur behind this Oscar-winning film.

“Is this true? Did you, William Freidkin, request and/or convey approval of this deletion to Disney, the rights holder? Was this your call?

“Or was this censoring decided upon by Disney with your approval or disapproval being a moot point?

“Two, if you DID convey your approval of this edit to the powers-that-be at Disney, could you please explain to me and the tens of millions of fans of this film why you would approve such a thing, nearly 52 years after TFC’s theatrical release?

“And if you DID NOT approve of the censoring of The French Connection, could you please convey your reaction to Disney’s apparent decision to remove the sequence in question?

“Thank you and cheers to you and your wife.”