U.S. History in Film

Prof. McClurken’s HIST 329 — Fall 2008

Reefer Madness

I had mixed reactions about this movie. On one hand, I can see how this could have been effective in the 30’s, b/c it does address how scary the effects of being a pothead can have on someone. On the other hand, the overacting and the bad filmmaking gives you no choice but to laugh at the movie and take nothing serious from it. My mixed reactions on this, though, are reflective of Hollywood’s interpretation of narcotics in the United States – they see both sides. However, it seems that lately, the films released have emphasized the humor behind marijuana and other drugs. Seth Rogen-written films (Pineapple Express, Superbad) have used this as a vehicle for his movies’ successes. Unlike films in the late 70’s and 80’s that seemed to focus on the downfall of drug-users (take the Al Pacino-led films Scarface and The Panic in Needle Park), Hollywood has been glamorizing the pot-smoker. Whatever Hollywood’s stance may be, Reefer Madness is one of a kind and rarely does a film become resurrected by a cult the way this movie has.

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