Tuesday, April 29, 2014

"Mary Jane" (1968) d/ Maury Dexter

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Some of you older heads might remember Philly native and bubblegum pop star of the late fifties, Fabiano "Fabian" Forte from his movie work in the early sixties after those mop-topped British Beatle bastards invaded the American music scene, appearing alongside the likes of John Wayne and Bob Hope. Tonight's review, a lost drive-in drugsploitation number, came later, when neither his music nor his movies were in the spotlight anymore. It's too bad, too, because this one is a real pisser that toes the straight laced lines of earlier, equally uninformed anti-pot scare films like Reefer Madness, Marihuana (both 1936) and Assassin of Youth (1937), while making Fabian's character more sympathetic to the edgier pot smoking scene of the day.

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"You toke pipe-blasting punks are ruining my Happy Days!", says Gas Station Attendant (Garry Marshall).
Jerry (Michael Margotta) wants to be in with the "In Crowd" at his school in the worst possible way. It just so happens that that particular clique, the "Mary Jane" club, a group of preppies and jocks who secretly blow pot all the time, and wear custom dog tag necklaces with their full name on one side and "Mary Jane" on the other (how conspicuous-like), is run by silver spoon-yapped, jock-asshole-extraordinaire, Jordan Bates (Kevin Coughlin), who doesn't find Jerry very groovy at all, man. To further complicate matters, three kids have just died from this mary-huana stuff via hokey pre-credits stoned balls car crash, and the staff is in cooperation with the local badges to put an end to this rapidly spreading menace, that influences high school kids (who all look mid-twenties, at the least) to commit heinous acts like spraying gas station attendants with hoses, necking on a blanket in the grass, and even pretending to ride amusement park rides while the park is closed... fucking dope fiend kids.

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A pinner like this today, cocaine and heroin tomorrow.
Luckily for them, they've got a groovy young art teacher/ football coach named Mr. Blake (Fabian) who's hep enough to have tried grass in college, and always leaves his keys in his convertible, in case, you know, Jerry needs to jack his car and lead cops on a high speed chase with a discarded sack of dope in the back seat, where Phil had hoped to land fellow educator Ms. Holden (Diane McBain), if she wasn't so frigid towards his grass blanket antics. Blake gets framed for the buddha and lands in jail, where he raps with Hymie from Get Smart (Dick Gautier, who co-wrote the movie) and a junkie in withdrawal uses his sweater to hang himself(!). Meanwhile, for his unresponsive peers, Jerry's physically ill from smoking grass, drowning himself in a lake, shoplifting watches, and ultimately, blasting hashish and delivering a package of low grade shwag-weed to some punchy jocks from across town that are expecting Acapulco Gold.Jerry's sympathetic teacher buddy, Blake, bailed out by Holden, intercepts Jordan's drug deal with the local ice cream man (pre-dating Cheech and Chong by some thirteen years by my count!), and takes the stuff to the author-no, he doesn't. Free on bail, he takes the stuff home with him. What follows is a predictable climax, but with an unexpected twist, that I'll leave you to discover for yourselves.

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It's a little too late to turn this one loose.
Fabian appeared two years earlier with Vincent Price in Mario Bava's campy mess, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966), while the clubfooted  Coughlin suffered an untimely death at thirty at the hands of a hit-and-run driver, eight years later. Patty "Bad Seed" McCormack appears here as Jordan's sweet blonde arm candy. Besides Gautier and Gary Marshall, who'd also appear in Dick Clark's choice drug opus, Psych-out!, the same year, there are also blink-and-you'll-miss-'em cameos from Terri Garr and Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall, who also co-wrote the script. Despite the mook-nificently misinformed marijuana un-science abound throughout, there remains a decent movie underneath it all, and on the scale, it inhales and buries a pair of Wops; worth a look if you can hunt down a copy, though I imagine the folks that would appreciate this one the most probably lack the motivation to get off of their asses and find it.

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"Bitchslapped by Fabian" is not something you wanna put on your resume', kid.
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