13 user 28 critic

The Connection (1961)

Not Rated | | Drama | 11 December 1996 (France)
A director tries to film a group of junkies in Leach's room while they are waiting for Cowboy to bring their heroin connection.


Shirley Clarke


Jack Gelber (play), Jack Gelber (screenplay)




Credited cast:
Warren Finnerty ... Leach
Jerome Raphael Jerome Raphael ... Solly
Garry Goodrow Garry Goodrow ... Ernie
Jim Anderson Jim Anderson ... Sam
Carl Lee Carl Lee ... Cowboy
Barbara Winchester Barbara Winchester ... Sister Salvation
Henry Proach Henry Proach ... Harry
Roscoe Lee Browne ... J. J. Burden (as Roscoe Browne)
William Redfield ... Jim Dunn
Freddie Redd Freddie Redd ... Piano Player
Jackie McLean Jackie McLean ... Sax player
Larry Richie Larry Richie ... Drummer
Michael Mattos Michael Mattos ... Bass player
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Linda Veras ... Siren
Learn more

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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. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


At Last! The Court Has Ruled! The Connection Is Not Obscene! Now You May See It! See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Star Carl Lee and director Shirley Clarke were in a long term romantic relationship. See more »


Cowboy: Man, I believe anything that's illegal is illegal because it makes more money for more people that way.
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User Reviews

13 October 2005 | by tedgSee all my reviews

Regular readers of my comments know I study folding, and I suggest that it is a deep concern for many filmmakers going back many decades. Most of my viewing these days comes from reader suggestions.

This is one, and very interesting. Group it with "The Saragossa Manuscript" as an early experiment, probably influential. Crude and obvious, but of historical interest.

I will describe it because it is hard to find.

Ostensibly it is a documentary drama, filmed of then contemporary jazz musicians (man, dig?) in a seedy apartment. They are there for their pooled money to turn into a pooled high, then pooled music. The thing is framed by a device: the film is made by two people, the director and a photographer. During the film, the director has his first hit of heroin, and presumably succumbs to it thereafter. The movie starts with a statement by the photographer that the director has abandoned the project and he (the photographer) has assembled it for us.

In what we call the real world, this is a play about this film-making. So to begin, it is a film about a play (a very obvious play) about a film about a "real" drama. A theory of theater at the time was that such abstraction and acknowledgment of the medium would allow the form of the reality to shine through.

It is the theatrical equivalent of an architectural notion that you can see in the Paris Museum called Pompidou, where all the structure is more than exposed, exposed in a way so obvious it is supposed to be invisible.

You may buy this. I certainly did when I was an architect in this era until I actually designed a building using it.

The difficulties of making this work are enormous.

You can see those problems here. Cowboy is the agent who brings the high. He arrives in pristine white, an articulate black man who used to be a musician and now is a savior. He brings an old woman, a salvation army warrior from 70 years earlier, incidentally 70 years old and worried about her burial.

For this, you need extremely clean images, touchstone dialog (where you jump from pad to pad without muddying yourself), and actors who understand all the folds and can inhabit them all.

This has none of that. These are street performers after the manner of "The Living Theater" which eschewed just the kind of thinking this project demands.

What we end up with is a bunch of actors with empty lives without layers who give us a layered story about a bunch of musicians with empty lives because they left layers behind.

You'll probably want to watch "Hurly Burly" for something like this done well, or this for historical interest.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

11 December 1996 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Connection See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »


Box Office


$167,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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