Watch Assassin of Youth
- 1 hr 20 min
Assassin of Youth is a cautionary tale from 1938 about the dangers of marijuana use among young people. Directed by Elmer Clifton and produced by Willis Kent, the film is a product of its time, featuring an exaggerated, moralistic storyline that portrays marijuana as a deadly and addictive drug that leads young people down the path to ruin.
The film's plot follows the exploits of newspaper reporter Art Brighton, played by Arthur Gardner, who is assigned to investigate a shadowy organization known as the "Cannabis Club." He is aided in his quest by his girlfriend, Joan Barry (played by Dorothy Short), who becomes embroiled in the story when her younger brother is lured into the club. Along the way, Brighton and Barry encounter a number of characters who have been negatively impacted by marijuana, including a woman who has lost custody of her child due to her drug use, and a young man who has become addicted and has resorted to crime to support his habit.
One of the film's central messages is that marijuana use can have devastating consequences on society as a whole. At one point in the film, Brighton delivers a lecture to a group of parents and educators in which he argues that marijuana is not just a problem for individuals, but for society as a whole. "Youth is the hope of the future," he says. "If our youth is corrupted, what of the future of our country?"
The film's tone is undeniably preachy, with characters delivering long speeches about the dangers of marijuana and its supposed links to violent crime. However, it also contains some unintentionally amusing moments, such as when a young man is shown smoking a joint and then suddenly hallucinating giant spiders crawling on his hand.
Assassin of Youth was not particularly well-received upon its initial release, with many critics dismissing it as sensationalistic and over-the-top. However, over time it has become something of a cult classic among fans of exploitation cinema, who appreciate its cheesy dialogue, hammy acting, and dated scare tactics.
One of the film's strengths is its use of real-life newspaper headlines to add credibility to its message. For example, scenes of Brighton typing up his stories for the paper are interspersed with shots of newspaper headlines about the supposed dangers of marijuana use, such as "Marijuana Menace Sweeps City" and "Marijuana Fiends Cited in Crimes."
The film's director, Elmer Clifton, was known for his work in low-budget exploitation films, and Assassin of Youth is no exception. The film's limited budget is apparent in its cheap sets, unconvincing special effects, and amateurish acting. However, the film's campy charm has endeared it to generations of fans, who appreciate it for what it is: a kitschy relic from a bygone era.
Luana Walters, who plays the femme fatale at the center of the Cannabis Club, is a standout performer in the film. She brings a level of sexiness and danger to her role that is lacking in the other performances. However, her character is ultimately revealed to be a victim of the drug herself, underscoring the film's (somewhat contradictory) message that marijuana use can destroy even those who seem immune to its dangers.
In addition to its portrayal of marijuana as a dangerous drug, Assassin of Youth contains some troubling messages about gender roles and sexuality. Joan Barry is portrayed as the "good girl" who saves her brother from the clutches of the Cannabis Club, while Walters's character is depicted as a sexually promiscuous seductress who lures young men to their doom. This stereotypical portrayal of women reflects the conservative values of the era in which the film was made.
In conclusion, Assassin of Youth is a relic from another era that is both fascinating and amusing to watch today. While its scare tactics and moralistic tone may seem dated and over-the-top, the film remains an important artifact of the anti-marijuana hysteria that swept the United States in the 1930s. Fans of exploitation cinema and campy movies will find much to enjoy in this cult classic.
Assassin of Youth is a 1937 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 20 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 4.5.