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Reefer Madness (1936)

Tell Your Children (original title)
PG | | Drama | 1938 (USA)
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Cautionary tale features a fictionalized and highly exaggerated take on the use of marijuana. A trio of drug dealers lead innocent teenagers to become addicted to "reefer" cigarettes by holding wild parties with jazz music.

Director:

(as Louis Gasnier)

Writers:

(original story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dorothy Short ...
...
Lillian Miles ...
...
Thelma White ...
Mae
...
Jack
Warren McCollum ...
Jimmy (as Warren McCullom)
Patricia Royale ...
Agnes (as Pat Royale)
Joseph Forte ...
Dr. Carroll (as Josef Forte)
Harry Harvey Jr. ...
Junior
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Storyline

Propaganda film that relates the story, as told by high school principal Dr. Carroll to parents at a PTA meeting, of the scourge of marijuana. The tale revolves around Mae and Jack, accomplices in the distribution of marijuana, who manage to entice the local high school kids to stop by Mae's apartment to smoke reefer. The lives of all who are involved with this menace are inevitably shattered. One man becomes so addicted to the killer weed that the guilt over framing a teen for murder causes a judge to order him to be committed for life to a mental hospital! Dr. Carroll closes by advising us to not incur the same tragedy. Written by Rick Gregory <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Drug Crazed Abandon! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dope Addict  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Edward LeSaint, Judge in the case of the people v. William Harper, was also the judge in "Disorder in The Court" 1936. Some of the same music can be heard in both films. See more »

Goofs

The same art deco ashtray that Mae Coleman has on top her piano (as well as the piano) also appear in the famous "Play Faster!" scene (where Ralph is in hiding from the cops and the girl plays piano for him while he's high). See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Dr. Carroll: ...Failing this, the next tragedy may be that of your daughter's... or your son's... or yours... or yours...
[points to camera]
Dr. Carroll: or yours!
See more »

Crazy Credits

FOREWORD: The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly-increasing numbers. Marihuana is that drug - a violent narcotic - an unspeakable scourge - The Real Public Enemy Number One! Its first effect is sudden, violent, uncontrollable laughter; then come dangerous hallucinations - space expands - time slows down, almost stands still ....fixed ideas come next, conjuring up monstrous extravagances - followed by emotional disturbances, the total inability to direct thoughts, the loss of all power to resist physical emotions... leading finally to acts of shocking violence... ending often in incurable insanity. In picturing its soul-destroying effects no attempt was made to equivocate. The scenes and incidents, while fictionized for the purposes of this story, are based upon actual research into the results of Marihuana addiction. If their stark reality will make you think, will make you aware that something must be done to wipe out this ghastly menace, then the picture will not have failed in its purpose.... Because the dread Marihuana may be reaching forth next for your son or daughter....or yours....or YOURS! See more »

Connections

References Marihuana (1936) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Gone with the Wind of 30's Exploitation Films
28 August 1999 | by (Falls Church, VA) – See all my reviews

Because of 70's NORML propaganda falsely claiming that the FBI sponsored Reefer Madness, most viewers believe that this Exploitation classic was meant to be taken seriously. Not so! Thelma White (Mae) has noted in interviews that the producers and director Louis Gasnier asked the cast to "hoke it up." The famous "Faster, Faster" scene is, in fact, a direct parody of a similar scene in the classic musical 42nd Street (a scene in which Dave O'Brien--Ralph in Reefer Madness--played a chorus boy).

So why make a cautionary tale, but do so tongue-in-cheek? Simple. To get around the Hays Code and show more skin than the Code allowed...but also to capitalize on the public's fear of drugs. Either way, the producers made a ton of money on the Exploitation circuit--more than covering their costs for this relatively expensive sub-Poverty Row production.

Made over the course of 3 weeks (most Exploitation films were shot in a few days), using an experienced director and a couple of talented actors who went on to have respectable careers in Hollywood, Reefer Madness is quite simply the finest Exploitation film to come out of the 30's.

The film's funny, is it? Well, the folks who made it thought so too. And they laughed all the way to the bank.


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