Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


MARIHUANA (1936). Director: Dwain Esper. NOTE: Marijuana is spelled with an "h" in the film's title.

Burma Roberts (Harley Wood) is a young woman with sibling rivalry issues and a horny boyfriend, Dick (Hugh McArthur). When older men pass around marijuana joints, it starts Burma down the road to self-destruction. Marijuana seems the least of Burma's problems, frankly, but the movie blames weed on virtually every social ill of the century and overstates the problem in an effort to make a clear exploitation film seem socially responsible. Meanwhile word of mouth probably got a lot of guys to go see the scene when high-on-maryjane gals doff their clothes and run into the surf buck naked (we see their naked breasts from the front, and their completely nude bodies from behind). Without the pretentious anti-drug aspects and with a stronger script this might have amounted to a decent enough melodrama. There are a couple of interesting plot twists, and Wood gives a not-bad performance, which is also true of Hugh McArthur and other supporting players. Wood appeared in a number of movies after this, but McArthur had few other credits.

Verdict: Minor-league on all counts, but more entertaining than it has any right to be. **1/2.

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