A high-school girl gets involved with a ring of teenage marijuana smokers and starts down the road to ruin. A reporter poses as a soda jerk to infiltrate the gang of teen dope fiends. Written by
Poorly developed moral sh*t-stirrer aimed at frightening rather than honestly informing
Just like many young people, a group of teenage friends enjoy a partying lifestyle, drinking, dancing and smoking weed. However, the devil of the drug starts as a bit of fun but soon they are living the consequences. During a night of partying that leads them to naked frolicking on the beach, one girl drowns while another ends up pregnant from a moment of casual sex. The pregnant girl gives up her baby as unwanted and continues her lifestyle, getting into harder drugs and getting more and more into the world of her dealer.
Unlike many other viewers on this site, I did not deliberately turn to this film to have ironic laughs at it but more out of interest. I had seen clips of this film played in modern documentaries (Grass for example) and easily derided and, in fairness, it is easy to do because they are dated and rather corny but just to watch it with an agenda to mock it is to do the film (and yourself) a disservice. It is easy to forget that this was one of many attempts to control drug use in the 1930's, the Government turned to movies as part of trying to educate the public. Looking at it now of course, the film is pretty extreme in its depiction of the consequences it does show the vague good side of drugs, the feelings that it gives you etc but it makes the partying out as a bad thing and ignores that the consequences for every user will not be as extreme as this film tries to portray as the norm for even an one-time casual user; like Bill Hicks said 'never robbed nobody, never shot nobody, never lost one single job. Laughed my *ss off, and went about my day' (I'm paraphrasing).
In terms of its value as a film, it is of course pretty weak. The direction is OK but the production values are low even for the period; some shots are really badly lit, the film crackles and jumps around a lot due to frequent dropped frames and the soundtrack cuts in and out quite badly. The acting is also only average; it would be easy to criticise the actors for how quickly they take their characters from clean cut down to junkies but that is not their fault they were only doing what they were told and I did think that they did do an OK job. Let's not forget that this is not a movie it is an educational film and even today the production values and acting within educational films is still pretty dire; the last one I was a short film on confined space entry with William Shatner hardly a piece of art!
Whether or not you agree, I have seen some of this type of film that actually do show the appeal of drugs in a reasonable fashion (The Pace That Kills did OK I felt) but this one is just far too one sided. The nearest it gets to actual thought is to begrudgingly admit that the kids have a good time, but that's it, no other though as to the reasons or the appeal and it obviously ignores the fact that bad things won't always happen. The film is clearly aimed at parents more than children because I can't imagine many teenage boys watching a group of girls get naked and being very open to ideas, who would say 'parties with naked girls? Nope not for me thank you'! If I had been told that weed brought you into this sort of party then I would have started puffing a lot sooner than I did all it does for me is make me sleepy, hungry and laugh, with rarely a naked 19 year old girl anywhere to be seen.
It does what it intends to do scare without anything in the way of actual information and in doing this it damages whatever good it could have done. I'm sure that even in the 1930's people looked at this and saw it as a very one-sided morality piece as opposed to an educational film. Imagine doing one about alcohol and suggesting that even one drink (not intentionally excessive drinking) would lead you to bar fights, unemployment, broken marriages and homelessness! This is not to ignore the fact that drinking can destroy lives (or even nights out) but to pretend that it is not generally OK would damage your case and it is the same here. It comes across as moral hand wringing and, even though its intentions and aims are good it just becomes heavy handed and really poor both as a film and a piece of social education.
Overall, this is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but if you only watch it to get ironic laughs while you smoke some puff then you are not giving it a chance or meeting it on its own ground that of the mid-thirties. The production is average at best poor lighting, a poor script, simplistic characters and a real biased spin to the story and, by being so blindly one-sided, it damages its value both at the time and now. A cheap, terrible film but I could have forgiven it that if it had had educational value and had done some good it didn't.
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