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The Connection

The Connection (1961)



Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 77

My Rating

Movie Info

Experimental director Shirley Clarke's first feature film is a no-compromise look at the dead-end world of drug addiction in Manhattan. Awaiting their next "connection", eight dopers sit in a bleak New York loft. The addicts agree to allow filmmaker William Redfield to shoot a documentary of their lifestyle--for a price. When their connection arrives, he suspects the filmmaker of being a narc and abruptly runs away. The film ends with Redfield agreeing to try some heroin himself in order to more


Drama, Classics

Jack Gelber

May 1, 2007

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All Critics (12) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (1)

A lean, mean saga of jazz, junk and rebellion.

May 4, 2012 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Clarke] gets at the inner truth of addicts - that they're pining for transcendence in the void.

May 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
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The film retains the same beatnik wit that the play effectively distilled, as well as a few scary shocks.

March 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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There is little about it to warrant the clamorous interest of the average moviegoer or to distinguish it as a significant piece of cinematic art.

March 27, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some creaky business with a Salvation Army sister recalls the piece's stage origins, but the music and the sense of 'dead time' retain a 'beat' authenticity.

March 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whatever its place on the scale of so-called authenticity, 'The Connection' is concerned with many of the same issues as its more legitimately underground successors. As someone in the movie observes: 'The question is, like why ain't we dead, y'know?'

October 9, 2012 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

Exhausting and occasionally juvenile, The Connection is, nevertheless, an experience.

May 3, 2012 Full Review Source:

The junkies, as expected, are the real show, and it's here that the theatrical predilections emerge, less "that Barton Fink feeling" and more The Iceman Cometh.

May 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A marvel of low-budget/high-imagination filmmaking.

April 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

It is a jolting look at the drug crowd.

March 27, 2012 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Shirley Clarke's work should continue to be screened, studied, and discussed, as she remains an iconoclastic artist who is vital to the development of the medium.

March 27, 2012 Full Review Source: Senses of Cinema
Senses of Cinema

Though now hailed as trailblazer for alternative cinema, at the time, Clarke's experimental work about heroin junkies, was so controversial that it was banned for a year due to its "foul" language.

June 7, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Audience Reviews for The Connection

As a fifty year old movie about a group of junkies waiting less than patiently for their next hit, "The Connection" surprisingly does not feel dated in the least, especially once you get acclimated to some of the acting. In fact, Solly(Jerome Raphael) wonders aloud why heroin is illegal in the first place.

Actually, the movie's diverse cast is not the only thing that puts it ahead of its time. The story is framed as a documentary filmed by a two-man crew.(This is adapted from a stage play where I imagine the setup was quite different.) Jim Dunn(William Redfield), the director and possibly the squarest peg in squaresville, has only been allowed into Leach's(Warren Finnerty) apartment due to his cameraman J.J.(Roscoe Lee Browne) gaining an introduction through his pal Jackie(Jackie McLean). Jim's intent is for the addicts to tell their own stories which the cameras only make harder for them to do, fearing what the police could do with the footage.

Depending on who you talk to, Leach, who is being severely bothered by a boil on his neck, is gay. There are naked photos of both men and women scattered around the apartment. He promises to invite women to the party but the one that does show up is the last one you would ever expect. It's tempting to only view the apartment as a squat, dingy as it is, but considering how populated it is by musicians, it is definitely more like a musicians' union, with only Solly and Leach lacking any musical inclination.(Were there that many jazz musicians hooked on drugs or was that just a stereotype?) Ernie(Garry Goodrow) does not play but that's only because he pawned his instrument. All of which lends a jazzy flavor to the soundtrack. The only problem is the movie eventually loses its way but that's junkies for you.
May 13, 2012
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

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  • The Connection (1961) (CA)
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