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      The Connection

      Released Oct 3, 1962 1 hr. 50 min. Drama List
      95% 22 Reviews Tomatometer 79% 100+ Ratings Audience Score In a cramped and dirty apartment, eight junkies variously goof off, chat and play jazz music while waiting for their heroin connection to show up. They've also struck a deal with documentary filmmaker Jim Dunn (William Redfield) : They'll let him film them provided he pays for their drugs. When the dealer, Cowboy (Carl Lee), arrives, he's suspicious of the filmmaker and his camera, enough so that Dunn considers trying heroin himself to prove he's no narc and to better understand his subjects. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

      View All (8) audience reviews
      princeofwaldo Beatnick America comes full-circle in this effort, with jazz and heroine addiction as the only thing that matters to the subjects portrayed in this timewaster. An unredeeming movie that serves no purpose aside from feeding the ego of the guy who made it, and of glorifying the narcotic drug culture of 1962. An endless cesspool of depravity, with the jazz music soundtrack incapable of overcoming the stench from the screenplay. Rated 1 out of 5 stars 12/26/23 Full Review s r A very different film, all in one room. Where a documentary being "filmed" takes a look at junkies in NYC and the people they encounter through the day. It was painful and raw, all the meanwhile the junkies are playing jazz as they go. Juxtaposed to Sister Salvation, the missionary invited up to tea, this film really packed a punch. Saw it on TCM. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member New York, 1961, a good piece of nostalgia. What America was supposed to be before what happened happened. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review Audience Member One of the most staggeringly difficult theatrical or cinematic conceits to pull off is the written script that sounds like it's being improvised. I've tried it. I've never gotten close to succeeding. It always sounds written. Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author is the most famous example of a play that attempts to break the fourth wall and sound like it's taking place outside of a play. Read it sometime. It's jarringly artificial. Maybe it's a translation problem, but Titus Andronicus reads more naturalistically than Six Characters. Of course, by its very nature, dialogue is an attempt to replicate human speech, and the great aspiration of all stage actors is to sound like they are saying these words for the first time ever, that it's just coming right off the top of their heads. That doesn't mean they ever really sound like that. If you can get a gifted playwright like David Mamet together with first-rate actors, they can breathe life into his stream of consciousness profanity. But no audience thinks the material is just being made up, and they wouldn't want to. Most comedy theaters charge nothing for their improv sets, with good reason; their output might suck, and often does. Any of the greatest improvisers you've ever heard of will tell you that most nights, the improv sets were terrible. But occasionally you have a mock documentary that attempts to pretend that it's an actual documentary. The Connection is one of those movies, and it comes as close as I've ever seen to making this inherently difficult conceit work. It's based on a play of the same name by Jack Gelber. In the play, a producer attempts to produce a play with actual junkies. All the junkies are waiting for their dealer to show up. I have never seen it staged, but I can't imagine it ever really looked real, no matter how grittily it was staged. You're still in a theater in a seat that you paid for, looking at a stage with people on it. No matter how skillfully casual the staging, you still had to be aware you were watching a carefully staged play. The movie version had a much better chance of looking real because there is a real genre called documentary that has no equivalent in live theater. But still, it's very, very hard for a scripted film to look improvised. The Connection damn near pulls it off, and is a remarkable piece of cinema, if for no other reason. And there are plenty of other reasons to admire it. The squalor is tangible in this movie. Half the cast are actors, the other half are musicians who play bop jazz (and quite well, too). The musicians are actually a significant key to the verisimilitude of the improv illusion, because they're looking to get fixed, too, and they play pre- and post-fix behavior quite subtly and plausibly, better than you'd expect musicians to act. The script is also quite deft. There are extended monologues, but for the most part, they are disjointed and aimless, as one supposes junkie speeches will seem, without ever sounding tedious. The conceit of the film is that it is presented as half-edited raw footage, so the occasional interruptions by the director and cameraman seem generally plausible. Not always, but often. The backstory for this movie is that, in exchange for paying for their next heroin fix and a small sum of money for each of them, a neophyte director has been given permission to film their next fix for his documentary. It's a highly unethical notion, and it gives the entire project (the conceit of the action of the movie, not the movie itself) a pallor of misconception. That is to say, you are watching a bad idea unfold. Of course, our rubbernecker curiosity gets the best of us, and we want to see how this messed-up idea plays out. The Connection was the first feature-length film directed by Shirley Clarke, a long-overlooked, groundbreaking director. She walks this tightrope of documentary verisimilitude far better than most veteran directors would - quite remarkable for a first-time effort. Three of the actors in the movie went on to greater fame. The "director" was played by William Redfield, who was most famous for playing the role of Harding in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, although he had been a professional actor for many years, since he was a child, long before The Connection. He was likely looking forward to a long career as a character actor after Cuckoo's Nest, but sadly, he died the next year of leukemia. Roscoe Lee Browne, long a stalwart actor in movies and television, made his film debut in The Connection as the cameraman. But to me, the outstanding performer in the movie was Garry Goodrow, who spent the rest of his life straddling the line between experimental and underground projects with occasional appearances in mainstream movies and television. He was a charter member of the San Francisco comedy troupe The Committee and was in the original cast of the legendary National Lampoon's Lemmings. He had small character roles in a number of movies and TV shows, but he never had another role as meaty as his role in The Connection, and he absolutely crushed it. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/14/15 Full Review Audience Member Shirley Clarke's daring (for its time) film about drug addicts uses creative camerawork to overcome its stage origins. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Audience Member the almost doc-like quality makes this grim look at addiction in NYC go. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      This movie is featured in the following articles.

      Critics Reviews

      View All (22) Critics Reviews
      Penelope Gilliatt Sight & Sound For Shirley Clarke's direction there can be nothing but praise... This is a film with more creative flair than any that has come out of America for years. Feb 11, 2020 Full Review J. Hoberman The New York Review of Books The Connection is not a great movie but it is a singular and multi-faceted historical artifact. Mar 7, 2019 Full Review Archer Winsten New York Post With so much to offer, the picture can be excused from the duties of entertainment in the pleasurable sense. Sep 21, 2018 Full Review Kathy Fennessy Seattle Film Blog [Shirley] Clarke, a dancer-turned-independent filmmaker, was no finger-wagging moralist. Her depiction of junkies may have been more realistic than most, but the entire film serves as a disincentive to try the stuff. Rated: 3.5/4 Sep 8, 2022 Full Review Amelie Lasker FF2 Media Director Shirley Clarke's performance background strongly influences this carefully paced, masterfully acted, beautifully scored drama. Feb 25, 2021 Full Review Dwight MacDonald Esquire Magazine The danger was that it would be just a photographed stage play. Miss Clarke has avoided this partly by brilliant technical effects, but chiefly by using the camera as the voyeur's eye of the director who is supposed to be making a documentary. Jul 30, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis In a cramped and dirty apartment, eight junkies variously goof off, chat and play jazz music while waiting for their heroin connection to show up. They've also struck a deal with documentary filmmaker Jim Dunn (William Redfield) : They'll let him film them provided he pays for their drugs. When the dealer, Cowboy (Carl Lee), arrives, he's suspicious of the filmmaker and his camera, enough so that Dunn considers trying heroin himself to prove he's no narc and to better understand his subjects.
      Director
      Shirley Clarke
      Screenwriter
      Jack Gelber
      Distributor
      Films Around The World [us], Mystic Fire Video [us]
      Production Co
      The Connection Company
      Genre
      Drama
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Oct 3, 1962, Wide
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Nov 20, 2016
      Sound Mix
      Mono