Five weeks after the Great French Connection Censorship Intrigue was first reported by yours truly (and which resulted in many articles worldwide along with no fewer than six HE articles between 6.3 and 6.20), The New York Times Magazine has boldly jumped into the fray with an article titled “What’s Lost When Censors Tamper With Classic Films.”

Three aspects are worth noting.

(a) The Times almost certainly dodged this story for several weeks out of squeamishness over the use of the N-word, which is what the censoring of a certain Act One scene in William Friedkin‘s 1971 Oscar-winner (i.e., Gene Hackman‘s Popeye Doyle using the epithet in a discussion with Roy Scheider‘s Cloudy in a police station foyer) was all about.

So when they finally posted a story about it, they had story editor Niela Orr, a youngish woman of color, write it. That gives them a certain political protection.

(b) In describing the scene, Orr uses the actual six-letter N-word — something that no one else writing about this story would ever do. Because she can.

(c) The one mystifying and unfulfilled element in this story is the absence of statements from either director William Friedkin or copyright owner Disney about who ordered the cut.

Was the scene edited at Friedkin’s request, as all available evidence clearly indicates? Orr shrugs her shoulders and wonders like the rest of us. If she reached out to Friedkin and Disney, she isn’t saying.

“We can only guess at the precise reasoning behind this particular change to The French Connection,” Orr writes. “Is it Disney, treating adult audiences like the children it’s used to serving? Or did Friedkin, who once modified the color of the film, approve the change?”

For whatever reason Orr doesn’t mention a couple of pertinent facts. A visually confirmed, easily verifiable report that “in Disney’s DCP asset list it says that the currently-streaming version of The French Connection is identified as ‘2021 William Friedkin v2.’” Plus a statement from The Criterion Channel, passed along in “a 6.9.23 HE story,” that “according to our licensor [Disney], this is a ‘Director’s Edit‘ of the film.”