Philip D’Antoni, ‘French Connection’ Producer, Dies at 89

Philip D'Antoni, the producer behind the gritty police dramas Bullitt and The French Connection, died on April 15. He was 89 years old.

According to Variety, D'Antoni died at his New York home. His son-in-law Mark Rathaus told The Hollywood Reporter that the cause of death was kidney failure.

D'Antoni's first film production was the 1968 Steve McQueen thriller Bullitt, which won the Oscar for Best Film Editing.

He followed that up in 1971 with The French Connection, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. The film also won Best Actor for Gene Hackman, Best Film Editing for Gerald B. Greenberg, Best Adapted Screenplay by Ernest Tidyman and Best Director for William Friedkin. It was the first R-rated film to win Best Picture and is best known for an iconic chase scene.

The producer was a big believer in the power of exhilarating car chase scenes, and had to convince Bullitt director Peter Yates and Friedkin to include chases in their films.

"Phil told his daughter Jeanne that he believed that 'cars are the modern equivalent of swords to those who know how to wield them, and a car chase is like a sword fight," Rathaus told THR.

D'Antoni also produced and directed the 1973 police drama The Seven-Ups, starring The French Connection's Roy Scheider. His other credits include the TV movies Strike Force, Shark Kill and The Connection.

He was also the executive producer and creator of NBC's Movin' On from 1974 to 1976. The series centered on truckers on their drives across country.

Prior to Bullitt, D'Antoni produced TV documentaries on the actresses Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Melina Mercouri.

His last credit was 1977's TV movie The Rubber Gun Squad.

D'Antoni is survived by his wife, five children and nine grandchildren. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

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"Phil D’Antoni. My friend and the great producer of The French Connection has died. May he rest in peace," Friedkin wrote on Twitter.

Photo Credit: YouTube/The Oscars