(Friends (R)/Reefer Madness)
Reefer Madness is the title of a 1936 film about marijuana, two books,
a 2004 off-Broadway musical satirizing the original film (made into a movie in 2005),
and a song by Hawkwind.
1936 "Reefer Madness" (originally named Tell Your Children) was a low-budget propaganda film financed by a religious group to broadcast
the dangers of marijuana.
It was directed by Louis Gasnier, who had well learned the silent era craft of over-acting. Its cast was composed of mostly unknown bit actors (Thelma White, Dorothy Short & Dave O'Brien).
The story was written by Laurence Meade. The plot revolves around the tragic events that follow when high school students are lured by pushers to try "marijuana": a killing, a suicide, and a descent into madness all ensue.
As a propaganda film moralists, it was a terrible failure. Soon after, cinematic exploiter Dwain Esper bought the rights and cut in the
"dirty bits" and began to make money on the rural circuit. Eventually it was shelved and the copyright was not renewed. It was relegated to the cinema waste heap for almost 40 years until 1972,
when Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) discovered it
in the Library of Congress archives and paid $297 for a print.
Stroup made it the darling of pot smokers and college campuses. For this crowd the poor production qualities of the movie, including the over-acting, have stamped it as an uproarious comedy
that magnifies the futility of the current "War on Drugs".
Reefer Madness has since fallen into the public domain and is available online. A colorized version of the movie is available; the smoke from the
"marijuana" was made to appear green, red, blue, orange, and even purple.
Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market (2003) is a book written by Eric Schlosser.
This book is a look behind the 10% underground economy of the U.S. that includes marijuana, migrant labor, and pornography.
Reefer Madness: A History of Marijuana (1998) is a book written by Larry "Ratso" Sloman.
This book is a popular social history of marijuana use in the United States
Reefer Madness (2004) is a musical satire of the Reefer Madness (1936) directed by Andy Fickman.
It was initially shown in a theatre in Los Angeles and then moved to the New York "off-Broadway" scene.
2005 "Remake" Movie
A "remade" Reefer Madness movie premiered on April 16, 2005 on the Showtime cable network. It is a movie/televised version of the 2004 musical satire play, starring Alan Cumming and Kristen Bell, the latter reprising her role from the stage musical.Directed by Andy Fickman.
"Remake" Movie: "An outrageous tongue-in-cheek musical comedy adaptation of the classic 1936 anti-marijuana propaganda film".
Januari 2005 - Actress Thelma White, who starred as a marijuana addict in the unintentionally
hilarious 1936 film Reefer Madness, died Tuesday of pneumonia at the Motion Picture
and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills. She was 94. Young Thelma began her career
as a carnival performer before she could even walk, and crawled her way into vaudeville,
then radio and movies, where she costarred with the likes of WC Fields and Jack Benny.
But it was the charmingly god-awful Reefer Madness that we love (and almost remember) her for. (Newsday.com)