Thoughts While Watching the Screen (I Couldn’t Think of a Better Title)

Ever notice the cops/detectives in movie and TV chase scenes always seem to be in preternaturally good shape? I mean, these folks can run for blocks without showing any signs of getting winded. (I know. I’m familiar with the miracle of screen editing … but these kind of shows are supposed to be realistic.)

I was thinking of this while watching Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle in French Connection II run a marathon in the heat of a French summer in pursuit of the drug kingpin played by Fernando Rey (who was riding in a boat at the time.) Now. I have never visited Marseilles (where FCII took place) but I did visit Paris in roughly the same time period and the heat was so intense I almost died from terminal thirst. I would like to believe that I was in reasonably good shape at the time of my visit but personally I couldn’t have run more than a couple of blocks in that heat.

It’s not just American cops either. In the Japanese thriller Stray Dog, Kurosawa goes out of his way to show viewers how hot it is. And yet what do we see? Toshiro Mifune as a Japanese policeman sprints after a fleeing felon in a …suit and tie? Even Hackman wasn’t that well dressed.

I assumed there might be a course in police academy about chasing down a fugitive that would account for the resilience and strength required to run that far and fast.

But then, come to think of it, that doesn’t explain why the crook is in such good condition. I mean, the “hero” has to have someone to chase, right? And I have a hard time picturing criminal types working out on treadmills in an underground gym. 

Must be the adrenaline rush powering the wrongdoer. I mean, I’d run, too (regardless of the weather) if I had someone who looked like the mighty Mifune on my tail.

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