I haven't liked all his films (I couldn't get ten minutes into The Guardian). I managed to avoid the whole remastering debacle re: The French Connection, so I can't hold it against him. But Sorcerer has always been on my nebulous top 10 movie list, you know? Other titles come and go, but that one has pretty much been up there for 30-odd years, since I saw it as a kid on latenight TV. I've always liked him for considering it his greatest achievement and for holding out for a day when it might be re-evaluated. With the news of its remastering, re-release, and re-appraisal, the last couple of years have been a very happy time for me, at least as far as movie news goes; and I've been happy especially for William Friedkin
Now with the whole debacle of the DVD release, I'm getting even more impressed with Friedkin, who is, apparently, asserting himself with WB, and posting things on his Facebook page like:
Do not buy the Sorcerer DVD yet. WB is making sure it's
Cut out. They are making a new DVD which will be available
Shortly, from the master.
The SORCERER blu ray is perfect. The DVD is flawed
and Warner's has recalled them. I will make a new DVD
And tweet when it's ready.
That's one of the good guys talking, folks. And you know what? After all these years waiting to see Sorcerer in a proper aspect ratio, I'm quite happy to wait a bit longer; I'm very pleased that he's responding to the demand and making sure a proper DVD edition happens. Good for him! (Hell, maybe in some future universe the "recalled" Sorcerer will be a collector's edition and I'll be kicking myself for not snapping it up when I had a chance. I don't think so, but...).
By the way, a semi-related tip for any Friedkin fans who haven't seen his 2003 film The Hunted: it's a very curious film, and well worth a viewing. It has great performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Benicio del Toro, intense action - including lots of hand-to-hand fighting and scary things with knives - and beautiful Pacific Northwest locations; people who like outdoor ordeal films will be particularly pleased. On the level of story, it's a bit of a strange experience, because it feels like there's vast swaths of backstory being omitted, which is somehow more interesting than what you get onscreen (which is "just the action"). Whether that backstory was omitted by design or if material was cut from a longer version of the film is hard to say - either seems possible, though this well-written Time Out review suggests that it was by design - but the overall experience is still weirdly compelling. It's sometimes hard to know which of Friedkin's "lesser" films are worth seeking out ("Should I watch Blue Chips?"), but The Hunted is definitely worth a look!