I actually had sketched this out in pencil a couple months ago, but decided to ink it up and post it today in honour of Gene Hackman's birthday. Gene's 78 now - can you believe it? Looking at his filmography on IMDb, it seems he's slowed down a bit in the last few years but was still pretty active leading up to his great role in "The Royal Tenenbaums" in 2001. Many of you may think back with fondness to his fun, campy Lex Luthor in "Superman" back in 1978. I still think his greatest film, though, was "The French Connection" in 1971, which really put him on the map, as it really was one of the landmark films that ushered in the gritty style of moviemaking in the 70's along with such films as "The Godfather", "Serpico", "Taxi Driver" and Hackman's other masterpiece, "The Conversation", to name but a few.
Hackman plays Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, an out of control narcotics cop, who on a hunch tails a suspected smalltime drug dealer who turns out to be mixed up with a major drug kingpin from France. Doyle and his partner, Buddy Russo, played by Roy Scheider, get deeply involved with what turns out to be more than they originally figured, culminating in that famous scene where Doyle appropriates some poor schmoe's car to chase down the kingpin's murderous accomplice who's on an elevated train. Whereas "Popeye" Doyle is a rather manic and tenacious cop, Roy Scheider as Russo is pretty calm and levelheaded, trying to keep his partner in check. Scheider would of course go onto greater fame himself in 1975 as the police chief of a small coastal town in "Jaws".
I really enjoyed doing this caricature of these two guys, not only because of my admiration for this film, but also for the visual contrast between Hackman and Scheider. Gene Hackman has a rather doughy quality to his features with all round bulbous forms and a horizontal thrust to his nose and chin, whereas Roy Scheider has a strong vertical design to a face that looks like it's chiseled out of rock with all those straight lines and blocky shapes. I'm always onto my Sheridan students to try to get greater contrast between their characters for more visual interest and appeal. Here's a good example of such characters from real life.