- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: NTSC
- Label: Movie-Spielfilm
- ASIN: B00008H2GF
- Other Editions: DVD | Amazon Video
- Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 649,642 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Cocaine Fiends (DVD) (1935) (All Regions) (NTSC) (US Import) NTSC
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(2003/Alpha) English, 1935, b&w, 60 Min.; Sordid and sensational, 'The Cocaine Fiends' is a vintage melodrama that depicts the narcotic's addictive dangers and its rampant threat to society. Directed by William A. O'Connor. Starring Lois January, Noel Madison a.o.
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When the action starts we are quickly introduced to some of the principle characters in the film: We meet a drug pusher named Markey who preys on young teenagers who want to buy marijuana from him. Markey doesn't care if the drug destroys lives even after there's a huge fatal car crash; he's only interested in the money although his source Jonathan Treanor (Michael Whalen) does worry. Treanor doesn't want to attract any attention so that they can deal drugs as quietly as possible. In addition, we meet Rita (Mary Ellen Popel), a showgirl at the Café St. Pierre; Markey supplies her with the "tea" and when Markey wants to meet the beautiful blonde showgirl Anne Lester (Lila Leeds) he forces Rita to set up a party at Anne's place so he can get to know Anne and introduce her to marijuana.
The party goes on as planned at Anne's house with everyone making a wild mess of themselves as they ransack the place (that's how Hollywood painted the effect of a single marijuana cigarette in those days) and Markey succeeds at talking Anne into smoking her first marijuana cigarette. It's not long after that Anne's younger brother Bob (David Holt) comes home and is horrified that Anne is getting the money to send him to college by selling marijuana! Worse yet, Hugo (Henry Corden), the boss at Café St. Pierre, fires both Rita and Anne for their recent poor performance and Hugo tells them very candidly he knows they're not working out because they started smoking marijuana.
At the same time, the cops are after Markey, his supplier Jonathan Treanor and anyone else in the crime ring that they can nab and put away. Captain Hayes (Lyle Talbot) has Lieutenants Mason (Robert Kent) and Tyne (Don C. Harvey) hot on Markey's trail. But things won't be easy for the cops; even after they arrest Anne and her friends on drug charges Anne refuses to talk about Markey despite the fact that the cops show her people whose lives have been destroyed by drugs.
Of course, to keep things interesting, the plot can still go anywhere from here. How does Bob handle his discovery that his sister Anne is sending him to college on drug money? What will Anne do after she is released from jail? What about Mason and Tyne--will they ever catch Treanor, Markey and the rest and put them behind bars? Sorry, no plot spoilers--watch and find out!
"She Shoulda Said 'No'!" has a good plot that moves along well; I was never bored. Sure, the film is dated but it's quite something to be able to view this in our times. I recommend this for people into cult classics; and people who like movies that deal with drug use and abuse will like this film as well.
As the film begins we see a couple of mooks in a car trying to avoid capture by the police (seems the men are involved in peddling smack). The driver drops Nick (Madison) off at a roadside diner where he meets Jane (January), who runs the place with her mother. The police show up, Jane hides Nick (he feeds her a bit about being chased by highwaymen), and afterwards Nick comments on her agitated state, offering her some `headache' powder. Jane becomes enchanted with Nick and his big city ways, enough so to follow him to the asphalt jungle, the thought being the pair would get married. Time passes and Jane comes to the realization big city life isn't all its cracked up to be, as not only is she hooked on `headache' powders, but also a gangster's moll. During Nick's rounds, Jane sees her brother Eddie (Benton), working at a local drive-in, along with a woman named Fanny (Bromley), the latter a customer of Nick's. Fanny takes a fancy to Eddie, who has come to the city in search of Jane, and gets him hooked on Nick's fabulous `headache' powders. More time passes and we see Jane, discarded by Nick, has changed her name to Lil, and hophead Eddie and Fancy are shacking up in a flophouse on skid row, having both been fired from their jobs due to ugly rumors floating around about their personal lives. At some point a rich, young socialite named Dorothy (Lindsay) with a taste for the seedy side of things gets thrown into the mix (Nick's taken a real shine to her). Things between Eddie and Fanny sour seriously (she's been walking the streets to earn money to support his ever growing habit), Fanny's life takes a serious turn for the worse, and Eddie ends up in an opium den where he's found by his sister Jane aka Lil, who tries to convince him to kick the junk and go home. There's some goings on at a hoodlum hangout called The Dead Rat Café (seriously), including a couple of musical numbers followed by Dorothy being abducted (seems Nick is going to use her in a curious, i.e. lame-brained, scheme to take over the dope rackets), and things eventually come to a head as Jane tries to score some dough from Nick to help her hophead brother.
While The Cocaine Fiends doesn't have the frantic energy and dubious delights displayed in Reefer Madness (1936), probably the most well known of these early `cautionary' exploitation films, it does have its seedy, little, melodramatic charms. The performances are fairly goofy, and the dialog laughable, enough so to entertain most who take on the venture of watching tale of woe. There is some oddness here as producer Kent made a film in 1928 titled The Pace That Kills and used some of the footage in this 1935 version, which I guess is something of a remake. It's pretty obvious when the footage is used, as the story skews slightly, and said footage has a very different look than that which was shot in 1935. I did learn a number of things while watching this film, including the following...
1. If someone offers you `headache' medicine, especially the kind taken up the schnoz, you should probably pass.
2. Jane's about as gullible as the day is long, that is if there were fifty hours in a day.
3. Dames, unlike men, tip in smiles.
4. Making whoopee had a different meaning back in the day than it does now.
5. If Eddie was any greener he'd be broccoli.
6. The life of a dicarded gangster's moll is about as unglamourous as it sounds.
7. Apparently working at a drive-in diner back in the day was a real plum job.
8. Jane and Eddie's mother is optimistic to a fault, waiting for letters that never come.
9. Hopheads are unlikely to engage in correspondence (or personal hygiene, for that matter).
10. The Dead Rat Café, despite its repellant name and décor (including rodent themed wallpaper), seems to be doing a heck of a business.
11. Someone out there, at some point, made and sold wallpaper featuring abnormally large rats.
12. Eddie sure likes to say the word hophead.
13. An opium den isn't the best place to grab a little sack time.
One aspect missing was the actual usage of any cocaine. Whenever someone would use it, we'd be looking somewhere else. Heck, I don't think we even saw any cocaine in the film, other than that which was supposed to be concealed in small packets. There's a number of fairly entertaining sequences, but I think my favorite is when Nick, driving about town with Jane, pulls up to a school telling Jane some of his customers will be getting out soon. We don't see any transactions, but it does well to magnify the character's unmitigated rottenness, just in case anyone was unclear on the matter up until that point. As far as the actual story, things kind of bounce around between a number of characters as we witness the ruination wrought upon their lives by the vile, addictive devil powder, leading up to some interesting, albeit far-fetched, twists at the end. All in all not a bad film for its kind, and a decent complement to Reefer Madness, if you're the sort who enjoys these little exploitative nuggets of joy.
The fullscreen picture on this Alpha Video DVD release is very rough at times, as a good portion of the film is washed out, marked with signs of age, and missing numerous frames. As far as the audio, it starts off well, but deteriorates into various states of crumminess as the film progresses. While the video and audio are lacking, it's probably unfair to be overly critical as the film wasn't really the kind of feature someone would go through a lot of effort to preserve for some seventy odd years, so this is probably as good as it's going to get, without someone making a monumental investment in any restorative activities of which I'd doubt they'd see a suitable return. There are no extras on this disc, other than a video display showing the covers of other Alpha releases. One thing's for sure, the cover of the DVD here is certainly interesting and entertaining...
What I didn't know at the time was that these type of films started in the 1930's, the infamous Reefer Madness being the prime example. Most of these films were extremely low budget affairs with teenagers played by actors who looked to be in there late twenties or early thirties.
She Shoulda Said No is no different from most of these films except for one interesting fact. Lila Leeds was a Hollywood hopeful who appeared to headed toward a fairly successful career in film until August 31st, 1948. She was arrested on that date with Robert Mitchum for marijuana possesion. I have read that making this film was part of a court ordered action by the judge who tried her case. The notoriety did nothing to hurt Robert Mitchums career. It torpedoed Lila Leeds hopes for stardom. She only had one uncredited appearance in a film afterward.
These type of films gathered dust until the hippie culture of the sixties blossomed and made them cult films. It wasn't until the advent of home video that they became truly popular. Now just about all of these films are available on DVD. If you are interested in this type of thing, then you might want to give this a try.