Narcotic (1933)

 |  Biography, Drama  |  March 1934 (USA)
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As the opening scroll tells us, Narcotic was "presented in the hope that the public may become aware of the terrific struggle to rid the world of drug addiction." The movie itself is a ... See full summary »


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Cast overview:
Harry Cording ...
Joan Dix ...
Patricia Farley ...
Lena (as Jean Lacey)
J. Stuart Blackton Jr. ...
Gee Wu
Paul Panzer ...
Miami Alvarez ...
Drug addict
Charles Bennett ...
Hand wrestler
Josef Swickard ...
Federal narcotics agent


As the opening scroll tells us, Narcotic was "presented in the hope that the public may become aware of the terrific struggle to rid the world of drug addiction." The movie itself is a salacious plunge into a world of sordid pleasures. It tells us the story of Dr. William G. Davies, an infamous snake-oil salesman who started his career as a promising medical student. In the opening sequence he saves an unborn baby by performing a cesarean operation after the mother was killed in an automobile accident. Stock medical footage shows a woman's stomach being sliced open like a ripe watermelon and the baby popping out like a jack-in-a-box. But the allure of opium proves too strong for the doctor to resist. After a single night of relaxation in a Chinatown opium den, Davies becomes a slave to drugs. As his medical practice deteriorates, he shifts his attention to "selling medicine by demonstration." He says to his nurse/fiancee, "I can't see anything wrong if my preparation has merit." ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One night of bliss... A thousand nights of hell..!


Biography | Drama

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

March 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Narcotic Racket  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$8,900 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Writer Hildegarde Stadie based the script on true events. She had gone on tour with a great uncle as a little girl when he worked the medicine show circuit selling the elixir Tiger Fat. The film is actually considered to be a very accurate and unexaggerated retelling of his life. See more »


Lena supposedly snorts cocaine at the party, but the cocaine is still on the small spoon she uses after she has "snorted" it. See more »


Drug addict: Say, Lena, you usually take speed, don't you?
Lena: You can shoot me up I don't... with a needle.
See more »


Featured in American Grindhouse (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

strange, disquieting 30s exploitation from Dwain Esper
1 October 2003 | by (south Texas USA) – See all my reviews

While not as over-the-top as Dwain Esper's MANIAC or as professionally made as his MARIJUANA: WEED WITH ROOTS IN HELL, NARCOTIC is a unique film experience. It has a jumpy, elliptical style--sometimes the next scene may be a few days after the prior scene, sometimes a few months or even years. Add to this the use of stock footage from silent films (in the first half) and stock footage of animals killing each other (in the last third).Also, the script mixes philosophy with medical jargon with drug slang with hard-boiled dialogue. And Esper's preference for odd, off-putting camera angles and introducing characters by showing their shadow.The whole thing, in under one hour, has a grimy feel to it. Even the worst poverty row b-movie tries, on some level, to be entertaining, no matter how far it misses that mark. This film really is NOT trying to entertain--it tries to create certain moods and reactions in the viewer, and it will use non-rational, expressionistic techniques to create those effects in the viewer. It's MUCH different from other 30s exploitation films such as REEFER MADNESS and COCAINE FIENDS. One must give Esper credit--the film was made 70 years ago but it is still a disquieting experience.

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