“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!”
Everyone get out your pitchforks because my day-late blog post of the week is going to be “Tell Your Children,” a 1936 film better known under the title “Reefer Madness.” The film was allegedly funded by a church group who wanted to warn about the evils of marijuana.
Now, I personally can’t stand the smell of marijuana. Living in a college dorm it’s all around, and I just don’t like it. However, I do not believe the evils of marijuana include many of the attributes given it in the above introduction to the film. I’ve never heard of marijuana actually creating “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.”
Actually, the people that I’ve seen use high usually just sit in a dazed stupor or ravenously attack bags of chips.
So what we have on our hands is a pack of lies meant to shock Americans the same way that previous videos were meant to shock schoolchildren and teens. This is the age right before the Red Scare, right? Or is that what’s going on? The film begins with an “expert” on marijuana leading a PTA meeting on the evils of the drug.
The good doctor tells the parents how cleverly marijuana users have hidden their stashes. They hide them in the heels of shoes, especially women’s (heeled, this is the 30’s so the distinction is mone – not the movie’s). They also hide them in the hollow part of shaving brushes (my father is the only person in the universe that I know that still has those, although I promise he wasn’t around in 1936), books with false centers. Watch cases are also a good place to hide them.
Is this video teaching parents about the evils of marijuana or teaching kids how to use the drug? Maybe I incorrectly assessed the educational value of the film. It would explain the film’s re-distribution title – Reefer Madness. It’s also been released under the titles “Dope Addict,” “Doped Youth,” “The Burning Question,” and “Love Madness.” I don’t get the last one at all but I do love the other puns.
Some tongue-in-cheek intentions on the part of the film producers (I assume it wasn’t the church group that was being facetious) would explain the plot of the film, which attributes a lot of fun crimes to marijuana, as well as this absolutely ridiculous exchange:
Bureau Official: “Here is an example: A fifteen-year-old lad apprehended in the act of staging a holdup – fifteen years old and a marijuana addict. Here is a most tragic case.”
Dr. Carroll: “Yes. I remember. Just a young boy… under the influence of drugs… who killed his entire family with an axe.”
So by all means see this movie. Where else are you going to get a scene like the one where, after Jack pours an ungenerously sized drink for Mae, she says “Hey, what am I? An orphan?” After that she asks him if he has a hollow leg. What?!? This is another one of my favorite exchanges:
Jack: Time to get up and give this place the goin’ over. It looks like the marines have landed. Mae: Well, that bunch last night was high enough to take over the marines and the navy!
My dirty mind is taking this to amazing places.
But enough of that. For those interested, there was a heavily tongue-in-cheek musical made out of the film that is also entitled “Reefer Madness.” It was made into a t.v. movie and it looks like it’s right up there with “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Here’s the link to the original film, http://www.archive.org/details/reefer_madness1938. See you next week!