One Toke Over the Line: REEFER MADNESS (G & H Productions 1936)

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I’m writing this post while battling a nasty case of the flu, so it’s probably going to be a short one. That’s okay though, because really, what can I say about REEFER MADNESS? It’s terrible filmmaking, and dull as dishwater. There are plot holes so wide you could drive a semi through them. This little exploitation number would’ve been long forgotten after making the rounds on the grindhouse and roadshow circuits, until it was rediscovered by the stoner crowd in the 70’s and turned into an ironic midnight cult movie.

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The movie itself finds stodgy Dr. Carroll lecturing the local School-Parent Group to help “stamp out this frightful assassin of youth” marijuana. He recounts what happened when some kids got hooked on the stuff. Seems this gang of drug pushers were out to corrupt American youth by turning them on at an apartment run by no-goods Mae and Jack. Sweet Mary’s brother Jimmy and her beau Bill get caught up in the sleazy goings-on at Mae’s place. Jimmy makes a run to cop more weed with Jack, but he’s so stoned he runs over a pedestrian. Bill gets involved with Blanche and ends up deflowering her while they’re both high. Mary goes looking for Bill, and is almost raped by wild-eyed stoner Ralph. Bill comes into the room and begins to throttle Ralph when Jack bursts in with a gun. There’s a scuffle, and Jack ends up shooting Mary. They convince Bill he did it, and he goes on trial. Meanwhile, Ralph freaks out about the whole thing, cracks up and beats Jack to death with a poker. The cops raid the place and Blanche spills the beans on the whole sordid situation. Bill is freed, Blanche commits suicide by jumping out a window, and Ralph is sent to a home for the criminally insane, yet another victim of the marijuana epidemic.

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Director Louis Gasnier was once famous for the pioneering 1914 serial THE PERILS OF PAULINE, but had fallen on hard times, and this was his last film. The cast isn’t well-known, but does feature Dave O’Brien as the hophead Ralph, whose career I covered in my post on THE DEVIL BAT . His maniacal laughter and deranged crack-up scene are the only good things about the film. Dorothy Short (Mary) married O’Brien shortly after making the movie, and was featured in another pothead exploiter, ASSASSIN OF YOUTH. Thelma White (Mae) appeared in B-films and shorts with Edgar Kennedy and Leon Errol. Lillian Miles’ (Blanche) brief career was notable only for the 1934 Astaire/Rogers vehicle THE GAY DIVORCEE. Carleton Young (Jack) had a long film career, though; his best known are THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. Oh, and the actor who plays the judge at Bill’s trial is Edward LeSaint. As I was watching, I thought to myself, “I’ve seen this guy somewhere before”, and I was right. He was the judge in the Three Stooges short DISORDER IN THE COURT. And since my post’s so short, why don’t we just watch Moe, Larry, and Curly in one of their best comedies, and forget about REEFER MADNESS. Enjoy!

 

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10 Replies to “One Toke Over the Line: REEFER MADNESS (G & H Productions 1936)”

  1. I smoked my first joint shortly after watching this flick for the first time, and ever since then, I’ve always been disappointed that none of the herb I’ve ever had was even half as good as whatever they smoked in the film. Bummer trails.

    Liked by 1 person

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