Cocaine Fiends, The (1936)

“It’s too late for me — girls can’t come back–”

Poster

Synopsis:
A small-town girl (Lois January) who has become hooked on cocaine tries to prevent her brother (Dean Benton) from following in her path.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Best known as a companion piece to the infamously campy Reefer Madness, this film (as Peary notes) isn’t nearly “as blatantly exploitative or as foolish in its depiction of drug usage and addiction.” Indeed, the highly realistic possibility of naive young people becoming addicted to cocaine (unlike the histrionics over marijuana “addiction” flouted in Reefer) is scary enough to add some genuine tension to the proceedings. As Peary points out, however, Cocaine Fiends is primarily of interest for its “sad view of females in trouble in a cold-hearted, male-dominated world” — indeed, you’ll feel frustrated and dismayed by January’s utter lack of hope for a second chance.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • A gritty, relatively realistic view of drug abuse and squalor in the 1930s.

Must See?
No; though it’s “better” than its infamous counterpart, this one is not must see viewing.

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One Response to “Cocaine Fiends, The (1936)”

  1. In complete agreement here, and not a must.

    Films of this ilk – i.e. ‘Reefer Madness’ – tend to be thought of as only good for a laugh these days. In the case of ‘RM’, the laughs do come – and it’s the wayward quality of that film that causes it to be at least a once-and-done must. As for ‘CF’, aside from something giggle-worthy here and there in the dialogue, it’s a more ‘earnest’ piece of propaganda (and, oddly, some cast members make moments of it genuinely moving).

    Overall, it’s watchable – and, plot-wise, there are a few genuine surprises along the way. Chances are, though, you won’t be thinking much about it after it’s over.

    That said, ffs fascinated with this period in cinema history will probably be curious.

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