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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Puff ... A Party ... A Tragedy!


Marihuana Pics Reveal Naked Truth

I backed off Reefer Madness revivals for guessing that, like most ancient exploitation, it would stop being funny after ten minutes and bore to tears from there, like serial chapters strung together for all-day (or night) Batman ordeals from the mid-60's. Alternative was Thunderbird's 16mm trailer for Marihuana, a grenade tossed by Dwain Esper in 1936. Two and a half minutes was plenty enough of this, the preview containing what there was of interest in the feature. I ran that spicy spool to much applause at college meets, the joke on and off before it got wearisome. Trouble with "camp" shows was so often too much of a sometimes not-so-good thing. Midnight rallies of even classic stuff could exhaust in a hurry, unless you'd slept till noon that day. We drove to Winston for The Cocoanuts and Duck Soup, a show begun at stroke of 12, and worse yet, with creaky Cocoanuts for an opener. I'll not forget fighting off fatigue as 2 AM neared with Duck Soup still in offing. By its belated credits, I'd lost the contest with sleep same as Tim Holt standing off Fred C. Dobbs by the campfire.


Ad art for the marihuana mash-ups was art in themselves, as here with the snake wrapped around a hypodermic needle. And what's this with Fu Manchu's stand-in as drug dispenser? "Weed With Roots in Hell" was guarantor of big laughs at the trailer's finish: by any measure, it's great copy. Was "No Children Please" a request or command? The Grand was a scratch house in Minneapolis built for vaude but converted to film. It closed in the year Marihuana came out, but would rise like a phoenix from ashes as the "Gopher" in 1938. I like its invitation for "Girls!" to "Get Up a Party and See What Happens at These Wild Marihuana Sex Parties." Did parents monitor theatre ads close as they should? I'll bet lots more teens showed up for this attraction than adults. Assassin Of Youth first lit up in 1937. I wonder how many Drive-In attendees did the same in privacy of their cars ("Route 8 Opposite Thistle Down," which I could find no record of --- was it a mythical site, like a 30's strawberry field forever?). UPDATE: Mike Mazzone just called to inform that the East Side Drive-In, as it was better known, was located in North Randall, Ohio, Thistle Down being a famous horse race track.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jim Barg said...

Good stuff as always, John.

Recently here in Rochester, NY, the Eastman House's Dryden Theatre ran Reefer Madness. I honestly don't know if I could stand it without a few riffers making fun of it.

Rifftrax, one of the post-Mystery Science Theater 3000 projects, recorded a studio track and held a live show a few years back. Both versions are available on Hulu and worth checking out, if you like that sort of humor.

11:11 AM  
Blogger radiotelefonia said...

Director Louis J. Gasnier was in decadence after 1935. MARIHUANA is an unworthy piece and it is completely unfair that he has to be reminded by that fiasco.

His film CUESTA ABAJO for Paramount, made only a few years earlier, is by far a better, more important and influential film and I believe that it is neglected because it was filmed in Spanish.

I believe that this is done on purpose to deliberately suppress the knowledge of important films made in the United States that are put in authentic obscurity while the so called "obscure" films has been constantly seen on television.

11:17 AM  
Blogger antoniod said...

I showed my Mother REEFER MADNESS, and she was outraged: "This is such false propaganda!!!!!!!" WHAT WAS SHE EXPECTING????????

12:52 PM  
Blogger rnigma said...

Gasnier was best known for directing the first 10 episodes of the Hearst-financed 1914 serial hit "The Perils of Pauline." Wonder if his anti-reefer epic was also bankrolled by W.R.?

11:04 PM  

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