On October 3, 1962, Shirley Clarke’s debut feature, THE CONNECTION
opened — and closed — at the D.W. Griffith Theatre in New York City. After just two matinees, the screenings were halted, the theater closed and the projectionist arrested.
For almost a year, the producers of the film had been battling a ruling by the New York State Board of Regents that declared THE CONNECTION to be obscene. Even after a court decision supporting the film’s right to be shown, the Board had refused to grant it a license to open. So THE CONNECTION’s premiere was a direct challenge to the ban and to state censorship of films. It was an audacious move, but it came at a price. By the time the NY State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the film in November, the mainstream critics had already weighed in — and against — THE CONNECTION’s bold language and storyline. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote that the film offered “a forthright and repulsive observation of a sleazy, snarling group of narcotic addicts.” The following week, Jonas Mekas responded in the Village Voice that his fellow critics were “deaf, blind and dumb” — but audience momentum had waned and THE CONNECTION never recovered from that initial onslaught.
Fifty years later, Milestone is proud to present the theatrical release of a luminous new 35mm restoration of THE CONNECTION. Clarke’s powerful and multi-layered film premieres Friday May 4 at New York City’s IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas at West 3rd Street, ifccenter.com, box office: 212 924-7771