Study Guide

The French Connection Sal (Tony Lo Bianco)

Sal (Tony Lo Bianco)

Crime, American Style

Sal Boca, "candy store" owner and small-time crook, is the very... American partner in this French-American crime team. While Charnier is upper-classy and smooth to a fault, it's Sal's maximalist love for spending money that first catches Popeye's suspicion. Seeing Sal making it rain on everyone in a nightclub, he wants to know,"Who's the last of the big-time spenders?" 

How exactly Sal has gotten to this moment is a bit mysterious. In expository voice-over as Popeye and Cloudy begin their research, we learn that Sal at some point held up a Tiffany's in broad daylight, but Tiffany's didn't press charges.

In what situation would that happen, we wonder? Did Sal or his connections offer a bribe? A threat? Was Tiffany's just feeling nice that day?

We also don't where his money comes from. He has two cars, one in his wife's name, and one in his brother's, and owns a newsstand/"candy store"/coffee counter that makes, as Popeye tells us, "a fast seven grand a year." (That's about $45 grand in today's dollars.)

But with those fat stacks, all-nighters at clubs, and lots of unexplained errands? He doesn't do a very good job of hiding the fact that's he's got, well, a secondary source of income. And he's not known for being careful, even if Joel Weinstock—who's a much more seasoned criminal—reminds him that no one ever died from taking his time, Sal follows Charnier's insistence that the deal get done ASAP. Over-eager and flashy, Sal's the one who ends up dead while it seems like Charnier may have had a chance at escape.

But does all of this foolhardiness make him less sympathetic? More so? Just as Charnier softens his villainy with a little wave, the utter mundane domesticity of Sal and Angie preparing newspapers to sell tugs on our heart-strings a bit.