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.
Louis J. Gasnier
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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
A mildly laughable anti-marijuana picture, ASSASSIN OF YOUTH has some things going for it. The cast of ASSASSIN OF YOUTH is solidly capable for a roadshow production, and several actors have opportunities to shine in comic roles (in particular, the judge, the old checker-playing codger and the Margaret Hamilton "wicked witch" look-alike). Luana Walters is an appealing heroine, and a talented actress. (Her biography at IMDb suggests that Luana might have been better off with marijuana as her drug of choice.)
Today the old drug-scare films are played for laughs, but ASSASSIN OF YOUTH is an exceptionally competent production. The irony here is that truly terrible dope-soaps like REEFER MADNESS and MARIHUANA are much more entertaining, because they don't waste time with dramatic niceties.
The most notorious anti-drug movies of the 1930s were made by private entrepreneurs like Dwain Esper and Elmer Clifton, not by the U.S. Government. These gentlemen capitalized on the Government's anti-drug publicity, but they were not bound by any political agenda of the day. Their aim was to supply the public what the Hollywood studios could not provide under the Production Code - flashes of T&A, and graphic depictions of vice.
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