I have always loved a great story set in the past. Give me a high-powered historical plot, and I will keep turning those pages until my eyes cross. Kings or consuls, functionaries or janissaries, it doesn't matter, only that it pounds onward to the conclusion — volcano explosion, battle or market crash. It's literary dessert, and I devour every bite.
For most people, the start of World War II means German soldiers marching into Poland. Historian Antony Beevor begins and ends his new book, The Second World War with something different: the story of a German soldier who was actually Korean, was captured in Normandy, and wound up living in Illinois.
In The Connection, Leach (Warren Finnerty, right) and his friends wait around for their heroin fix, which eventually comes courtesy of Cowboy (Carl Lee). The controversial film was shut down in New York after two screenings in 1962.
Credit Richard Sylbert, Albert Brenner / Milestone Film
The set of The Connection with much of its cast. The film included a four-piece jazz band, assembled by pianist Freddie Redd, playing and soloing throughout.
Credit Milestone Film
Shirley Clarke, the director of The Connection, had strong ties to New York's independent film scene. She lent John Cassavetes equipment for his first film.
Fifty years ago, a movie called The Connection opened in New York — then closed after two showings. Police shut down the theater and arrested the projectionist.
The movie is about drug addicts, and the language is sometimes frank — too frank for 1962 standards. The director was an independent pioneer named Shirley Clarke, whose movie has been restored and is back in theaters, soon to be followed by restorations of nearly all her work.
There are more than 5,300 inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Nearly 4,000 of them are serving life without parole. Last month, the Angola Prison Drama Club staged a play unlike any other in the prison's experience.
The Life of Jesus Christ featured 70 inmates, men and women acting together for the first time — in costume, with a real camel, performing for the general public. For the untrained actors, this production held special meaning as they saw pieces of their own lives revealed in the characters they played.
Rob Reiner is an accomplished writer, director and actor. He's directed more than 20 movies, including some undeniable classics: A Few Good Men, When Harry Met Sally, The Princess Bride and of course, the movie that many will quote until they're old and gray, This Is Spinal Tap.
Reiner has said Stand by Me is his proudest accomplishment. To celebrate that film, we're going to ask him three questions about people he definitely doesn't want to stand by.