"Eight drug addicts are waiting for their connection in a New York apartment belonging to Leach. Jim Dunn, a budding filmmaker, has agreed to pay for the fix if the addicts will allow him to film the connection scene. After the men get their shots, they talk Dunn into trying heroin in order to understand the subject "first hand." He becomes ill and while sleeping, Leach takes an overdose that puts him into a coma. Dunn recovers, with the aid of the connection, and writes off the film as a failure." IMDB
"Fifty years ago, a movie called The Connection opened in New York — then closed after two showings. Police shut down the theater and arrested the projectionist.
The movie is about drug addicts, and the language is sometimes frank — too frank for 1962 standards. The director was an independent pioneer named Shirley Clarke, whose movie has been restored and is back in theaters, soon to be followed by restorations of nearly all her work." NPR
Clarke changed the character of the writer to Jim Dunn, a young, preppy filmmaker out to make a name for himself by documenting the "scene." As Clarke was best friends with the hot new indie directors, she added a level of humor by poking fun at the cinema verité movement. She also chose to keep the play's one-set constriction, but she combined the French New Wave’s mobile camera with a whirling choreography of movement and jazz to create an exciting, kinetic film that was acclaimed at the Cannes International Film Festival as a masterpiece. Yet even knowing the avant garde nature of the play and her film, little could Clarke recognize the furor the film was about to create.
Although Hollywood had previously depicted drug addiction in the recent years, it was mostly of the good men gone bad scenario with tragic endings. THE CONNECTION, with the raw, graphic depiction of drug addicts that Gelber wrote for the stage, A hit at Cannes, it was promptly banned by government censor boards for indecent language and a struggle ensued to have it theatrically screened in the United States. After a two-year battle, the producers and director ultimately won in court and as important as it was judicially, it was sadly a case of too little too late as the film lost its timeliness and failed at the box office. But among filmmakers, it was highly influential. The film has been out of distribution since the early 1980s.
Arthur Ornitz's black-and-white cinematography sparkles on the screen, and the performances of Freddie Redd and saxophone legend Jackie McLean sound impeccable in the new UCLA restoration. The release of THE CONNECTION is one of the cinema events of the year!