Four days ago (on Saturday, 6.10) I tapped out my latest riff about the bizarre deletion of a brief scene in William Friedkin‘s The French Connection (’71), which was apparently done (it physically pains me to type these words) with Friedkin’s approval or at his behest.

The day before (Friday, 6.9) HE commenter “The Multiplex” had reported that “in Disney’s DCP asset list the currently-streaming version of The French Connection is listed as ‘2021 William Friedkin v2.'”

This info, I noted, “is seemingly fortified by a statement from The Criterion Channel, passed along by “The Connection” in another 6.9.23 HE story titled “HE to Friedkin re Censorship Fracas.” CC’s statement said that “according to our licensor [Disney], this is a ‘Director’s Edit‘ of the film.”

I spoke yesterday to a Hollywood veteran, and one of the things I asked him was “why the hell would Friedkin betray the original artistic intent of his own Oscar-winning film by approving the deletion of a nine-second scene that uses the N-word?”

His reply: “Well, he’s entitled to do this, and the original film hasn’t disappeared — it’s available on physical media even if the streaming version is missing the censored footage.”

And then he said something interesting: “I don’t think Friedkin is playing the same close attention to this matter that you are.” I took that to mean that Friedkin may not be paying super-close attention in general.

The industry veteran then suggested that I drop the matter. “But it sets one hell of a precedent,” I replied. “What if it happens again with another important film…another woke censoring issue of some kind? I should drop that also?”

And yet I haven’t heard zip from Friedkin (I wrote him about this a while back) so in classic journalism terms the story has stalled.

I had presumed that Glenn Kenny‘s article on the matter would appear in the N.Y. Times, but my presumption, I gather, is erroneous. Some other outlet will run it this week.

This sparked a thought in my head, however, which was “why the hell wouldn’t the N.Y. Times want to run a story about this?”

The Times movie section may not have been formally pitched on this story, but why, I’m asking myself, would the paper of record blow it off? Could it be because (I’m just wildly speculating) they’ve basically become a woke activist newspaper, and they don’t want to post an article that might faintly imply some kind of vague endorsement of a nine-second scene in which the N-word is used?

The central issue is nonetheless huge and unmissable — should a half-century old classic film, raw and occasionally profane and, yes, punctuated with racist dialogue here and there, be censored in order to fall in line with current woke dictates — which are only a temporary spasm of passing cultural socialism — or should The French Connection be streamed in its original form, as most anti-censorship types would argue, out of respect for the original creative intent that was decided upon in 1971, even if the director has recently capitulated to the wokesters?

It’s one thing to include a preface or intro of some kind to a recently altered film, explaining the reasons for a deleted scene, and quite another thing to just lop off a nine-second sequence without comment or explanation. It’s too big of a deal to try and sneak this through.

The story appears to have boiled down to one about cowardice, I regret to say. A story in which a willful, hard-charging, tough-minded director — a guy I’ve admired all my life — has suddenly, in his mid ‘80s, became a squishy go-alonger and a weak sister…an obedient slave to woke commissar mandate thinking.

That’s a big effing issue with all kinds of precedent-setting implications, and the N.Y. Times doesn’t want to touch it over…what, racial profiling concerns?