For a better experience on MUBI, update your browser.
194 Ratings

The Connection

Directed by Shirley Clarke
United States, 1961
Drama, Crime


The film shows a group of drug-addict musicians waiting for their “connection” in a New York apartment while a two-man documentary team films the proceedings.

This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
The Connection Directed by Shirley Clarke
At the core of the movie is the question of why modern jazz seemed inseparable from drugs; whether the music’s fusion of fury and intricacy, of intellectual complexity and daring self-revelation, of spiritual insight and streetwise experience—all arising from the distinctive pathos of black-American life—is bound to self-destructive abnegation, and whether, if it’s true of jazz, it’s true of modern art at large.
January 01, 2016
Read full article
Clarke’s raging, tickling lyricism (edited by her own hand) brings out the explosive honesty and stealthy compassion in Jack Gelber’s screenplay (adapted from his own stage play). There is an indictment of a whole way of life stitched in there, and I’m not talking about the junkie way of life. I’m talking about the square, judgmental, blinders-on way of life that was Hollywood’s specialty at the time.
April 13, 2015
Read full article
The Connection remains my favourite Clarke film, even though it may also be the most dated (apart from the wonderful music), because it remains my key memento of three of the best nights I ever spent in a theatre, during the play’s initial run. It was so quintessentially theatrical as well as confrontational that no film could approximate it—which is why the film remains so theatrical (in an unfortunate way) in spite of all of Clarke’s ingenuity in adapting it.
March 26, 2015
Read full article

What are people saying?

  • Samuel T.'s rating of the film The Connection

    At first, I was perturbed by the exaggeration that makes this a "mockumentary". Continually referencing itself as a film, I rolled eyes, but histrionics, void monologues, isolated jazz jams, turn into conversations and interactions that finally feel utterly natural, real, dark, bugs on the wall and all, in this claustrophobic chamber piece, built over time to become quite threatening, satisfying, intimate, deathly.

  • Jesse Furgurson's rating of the film The Connection

    The theatrical quality of the performances clashes awkwardly at times with the (otherwise successful) attempts at realism, but a real humdinger that anticipates everyone from Warhol to Jarmusch.

  • EdieEmm's rating of the film The Connection

    I like plays and I like movies, and rarely do I like one adapted from the other but, man, Shirley Clarke is a brilliant dramaturg, and that camera made a great choreographer. It's a hard-earned 4 when the first half hour of a film makes you cringe, but she did it; from overly self-conscious and contrived to something like ecstatic. Kinetic, dynamic cinematography/score. Just not sure about that Jim Dunn subplot...

  • msmichel's rating of the film The Connection

    Clarke's adaptation of the Jack Gelber play often feels like just a filmed version until it gets under your skin somewhat aptly considering the subject matter. A group of junkies are filmed by a not so hip director while waiting for their 'connection' to show up with the junk. At first they play for the camera but the need for a 'fix' soon leads to more honest rantings and ravings. Excellent score and camera work.

  • VincentVendetta's rating of the film The Connection

    When you belittle film students raised on Eisenstein for ignoring the true, difficult life of people outside... but you still want those sick crane shots, dude!

  • m00njaguar's rating of the film The Connection

    Effective. It looks like what it is, a play adapted into a film. All shot inside a dingy New York apartment, a combination jazz musician's hangout and a heroin den. The attempt is made to present it as a documentary shot in real time, while acting & dialogue are seemingly spontaneous. Fluid camera work adds to this illusion of voyeurism into a sleazy underworld.

  • Kerem Sadi Ekiz's rating of the film The Connection

    What a gem this was. Jazz and life of drug addicts mockumentary directed and really well. Music is great if you are a jazz lover. I liked the cutting tecnique taken from the "Rope". Don't you think Leach charecter is like Fargo's Buscemi? Wounded in throat and acting style I mean. Also movie is adapted from a play and has a theatre feeling which made it better.

  • fane2808's rating of the film The Connection

    Jazz music, rather unknown actors (most likely the same that had played the characters on stage), a closed set (minimalistically-furnished appartment), which feels at times both extremely crowded and rather empty, and a mockumentary about what it means to be an addict. Plus, one cannot be totally impartial when filming, but has to have same experiences as the subjects, or else the message will not be passed on.

Related films