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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
Sleazy and awful--and a good film for "bad movie" fans
This is a bad movie that purports to be an educational film designed to warn America about the menace of marijuana use. However, like almost all the so-called "educational" films of the 30s and 40s, it was really a shabby little film designed to be snuck past the censors of the Hays Office. In 1934, the major studios all agreed to abide by the dictates of a stronger Production Code--eliminating sex, nudity, cursing and "inappropriate" plots in films (these had actually been relatively common in films in the early 30s). However, in an effort to sneak in smut, small studios created films to shock adults when they learn about terrible social ills, though they were REALLY intended to titillate and slip adult themes past the censors! Such films as CHILD BRIDE, MAD YOUTH, REEFER MADNESS and SEX MADNESS were all schlocky trash that skirted past the boards because they were supposedly educational. Even though they were laughably bad, they also made money due to low production costs and because they offered nudity, violence and sordid story lines--all in the name of education!
ASSASSIN OF YOUTH is a bit more watchable and entertaining than the average grade-z expoitational film. While it DOES feature a brief glimpse of nudity and plenty of over-the-top scenes, it also occasionally actually has some decent acting (I love the old man who owns the soda fountain--he's great) and writing that make it rise slightly above the rest of the films of the genre--particularly towards the end.
It's the story of two sisters--one is wild and the other just really stupid. The really stupid one is the heir to her grandmother's will and she stands to inherit a lot of money--provided she stays out of trouble and is a "nice girl". If not, then the local drug-dealing skank (her cousin) will inherit it because no one knows that this blonde floozy is evil. So it's up to this rotten cousin to do everything she can to destroy the stupid lady's reputation. First, when the stupid lady falls in the lake (thus allowing the audience a cheap thrill when she flashes her boobs), the bad cousin pushes the stupid girl's clothes into the fire (where the had been drying). As a result, she had to go home in only a coat. Second, on two separate occasions, the cousin slips her drugs and makes everyone in town think she's an addicted slut. However, when a nice reporter gets involved, he is able to rush in and save the day at the end--convincing everyone that the lady is only a dim-wit, not a slut or drug user!!
So let's talk about the bad--because after all, that's why people today would approach this film--wanting to see and laugh at the bad. There is a very prudish character who at first glimpse looks a lot like Margaret Hamilton from THE WIZARD OF OZ. Again and again, they show the exact scene of this old biddy on her motor scooter and it's super-reminiscent of the scene of Hamilton riding her bike (all that was missing was the ominous music). Her silly performance and the frequent use of this footage became comical. Second, the dialog in this film by the dumb girl is among the funniest in film history. Here is just one example:
Dumb Girl taking a sip of a spiked drink--"Gee this tastes funny". Sleazy Guy--"Don't worry--just drink it". Dumb Girl--"Okay". (as she sucks down a mickey).
With dialog like that, is it very surprising that again and again this idiot gets in trouble and nearly loses her inheritance?
Now understand that the Dumb Girl doesn't get all the rotten dialog--there's plenty for others as well. Such as when the doctor is called because the Dumb Girl's sister is "in a bad way" after using pot. When her mother asks the doctor how the girl is, he declares "she's a hopeless psychopath"--all because of the evils of marijuana!!
Sadly, there might have been a good reason to make such a film--after all, drugs do make people really stupid and ruin a lot of lives. But this film is so anti-marijuana that is tells us that it is much worse than heroin or pills. This over-statement might have potentially encouraged kids to avoid the dreaded pot and stick with "safer" drugs, like morphine, heroin or god knows what!! My assumption, though, is that most pot-heads just watched the film for a good laugh.
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