Connection, The (1962)

“You will not see the man behind the man — because there is no such man!”

Connection Poster

A director (William Redfield) agrees to fund the next fix for a group of heroin junkies gathered in the apartment of a friend (Warren Finnerty) as they wait for the arrival of their “connection”, a drug supplier known as Cowboy (Carl Lee).


Shirley Clarke’s black-and-white cinéma vérité film — crafted like a documentary, but actually highly scripted and based on a play by Jack Gelber — broke cinematic ground in its gritty depiction of heroin addiction, overtly flaunting New York’s censorship rules. Indeed, watching this independently produced film puts more mainstream movies of the same year in an interesting perspective: while many of these titles (i.e., To Kill a Mockingbird, The Manchurian Candidate, Days of Wine and Roses) were concerned with “social issues”, none were anything close to this raw in their depiction. With that said, The Connection unfortunately isn’t all that interesting or compelling; it’s far too stagy and dry, and I would revisit any of the above titles before this one for sheer entertainment value. Yet The Connection remains of minor interest simply for its historical importance.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A refreshingly frank (for the time in which it was made) look at drug use
    Connection Leach

Must See?
No, though it’s recommended for one-time viewing simply given its historical significance. Listed as a film with Historical Importance and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.


One Response to “Connection, The (1962)”

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    I can’t speak about whatever controversy the film may have stirred up in its day (though the early ’60s were a particular time of risk-taking in theatrical experimentation) but if it had any real value, it would have stood the test of time. It’s pretentious to think this kind of presentation has insight just because it has a lot of blather in it. The result is a dull, pointless piece of crap. Even the reprieves with jazz selections don’t help.

    The acting runs along lines of being terrible and in some cases embarrassing – not that the script affords much to work with.

    Of course, the film does illustrate that addiction is boring…something we knew going in.

    Side note: DP Arthur J. Ornitz would later shoot ‘The Boys in the Band’. This film has 8 junkies in a confined space and ‘TBITB’ has 8 gay guys in a confined space. There is some overlap in the visual style of both.

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