Reimagining Jack Gelber’s controversial off-Broadway play about a group of addicts—many of them jazz musicians—waiting for a fix, Clarke changed the slumming writer companion of the original to a fly-on-the-wall filmmaker out of the cinema verité scene. The result was a cross-examination of documentary ethics, a demonstration of freewheeling camerawork that erased the material’s stagebound origins while swinging along to the original jazz score, a cause célèbre of New American Cinema—and a target for eager censors across the United States, who assured The Connection would for a long time be more influential than it was screened. Well, it’s still around.

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