SYNOPSIS

Variously claimed for ‘beat’ cinema, the avant-garde and, tenuously, as a precursor of ‘mockumentary’, indie godmother Shirley Clarke’s first feature is pretty much sui generis in its determined layering of truth-telling artifice. A 1961 sound-stage transposition of Jack Gelber’s play about a bunch of junkies hanging out in a New York loft, waiting for their man – which had already run nigh four years at the Living Theatre and enraptured the likes of Kenneth Tynan – The Connection breezily bookmarks the ironies of vérité: the would-be documentarist within the film pleading with the time-killing junkies to act naturally; the jazzers among them (including Jackie McLean and Freddie Redd) supposedly jamming an impro to the score the latter had written for the stage version. But its main strength lies in movement around stasis: former choreographer Clarke, who’d made the inanimate dance in 50s shorts like Bridges-Go-Round, here energises ‘dead time’ with an intuitively restless camera. A landmark of the NY New Wave, leading Clarke towards Portrait of Jason (a Treasure in last year’s Festival), The Connection has been restored by UCLA from original 35mm negatives, with damaged sections replaced by material held by the bfi’s NFTVA.


TRAILER


RELEASE DATE

January 01, 1961

DIRECTOR

Shirley Clarke

WRITER

Jack Gelber

COMPANY

Mystic Fire Video

GENRE

Drama

CERT

18

RUNTIME

110 minutes

IMAGES