120 user 74 critic

Reefer Madness (1936)

Tell Your Children (original title)
PG | | Crime, Drama | 1938 (USA)
1:45 | Trailer

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Cautionary tale features a fictionalized 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 (as Louis Gasnier)


Lawrence Meade (original story), Arthur Hoerl (screenplay) | 1 more credit »





Complete credited cast:
Dorothy Short Dorothy Short ... Mary
Kenneth Craig Kenneth Craig ... Bill
Lillian Miles Lillian Miles ... Blanche
Dave O'Brien ... Ralph
Thelma White ... Mae
Carleton Young ... Jack
Warren McCollum ... Jimmy (as Warren McCullom)
Patricia Royale Patricia Royale ... Agnes (as Pat Royale)
Joseph Forte Joseph Forte ... Dr. Carroll (as Josef Forte)
Harry Harvey Jr. Harry Harvey Jr. ... Junior


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


THIS 1936 UNEXPURGATED CLASSIC FROM NEW LINE CINEMA (rerelease all caps in top border) See more »


Crime | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dope Addict See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film became one of the earliest cult comedy hits during the golden age of the "midnight movie" in which theaters, especially those near colleges, would run the film at special screenings late at night during weekends. See more »


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 »


Opening crawl: The motion picture ou are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing numbers. Marihuana
Opening crawl: is that drug - a violent narcotic - an unspeakable scourge - The Real Public Enemy Number One!
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 »

Alternate Versions

The shot of Mary unzipping the back of her dress, plus the close-up dolly-in shot of her lying on the sofa, was censored from some prints. See more »


Featured in Nostalgia Critic: Reefer Madness (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Tell All The People
5 May 2004 | by thurberdrawingSee all my reviews

My review refers to the new, colorized version of REEFER MADNESS (released in April, 2004.) Originally called TELL YOUR CHILDREN, this 1938 movie's been known as REEFER MADNESS since at least the seventies. There are three very good reasons to watch this DVD: The colorization makes the bland visuals of this propaganda film bearable; the commentary track by members of the colorization team is informative and witty; and the other commentary track (by Mike Nelson of MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000) allows the lone viewer to feel something of the effect of sitting in a room with a friend goofing on a movie. I have not watched the two other extra features, which are a new trailer for REEFER MADNESS and a new short called GRANDPA'S MARIJUANA HANDBOOK. I'll check out the new trailer, but the brief few seconds I saw of GRANDPA looked like pro-marijuana propaganda, which bores me. REEFER MADNESS is also presented in the original black and white version, so this is a truly complete DVD package. When the DVD menu is on the screen, marvelous recordings from the jazz-age play in the background. (The songs, of course, are related to marijuana, and they provide counterpoint to the put-your-blinders-on tenor of the movie. I wish there were a separate track consisting of such songs and that they were listed so as to be selected and played. For film buffs, the commentary on the colorization is the best part of this DVD after the colorization itself. Of course, the movie is unintentionally funny, and Bob Nelson's wisecracks are fun, but I loved learning the WHYs and WHEREFOREs of the restoration of this movie. The colorization is superb. Each character blows smoke of a hue to match his or her personality. Location shots show the garish colors of the depression-era billboards in the background. This restoration is vibrant. REEFER MADNESS is, as I've said, unintentionally funny, but it is also deeply dishonest, made, as it was, by people bent on bullying the young into behaving. Have the restorers painted a mustache on this monsterpiece? No. What has been painted on it is a warm smile. And that makes it worth watching, finally.

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