Sunday, July 24, 2016
She Should Have Said No (aka Wild Weed)
Director: Sam Newfield
Writer: Richard Landau, Arthur Hoerl
Four things about this film: It is introduced by the one and only Kroger Babb, it was Jack Elam’s film debut, it co-stars Lyle Talbot and, has a fascinating back story involving the female lead Lila Leeds and her unfortunate run in with the law, marijuana and Robert Mitchum just a year prior to the films production.
SSHSN is common to the morality movies that were churned out in the 30’s and 40’s by production companies such as Roadshow Attractions, Hallmark Productions and many more like them. Movies like Reefer Madness, The Pace That Kills, and Marihuana Assassin of Youth were amazing frenetic concoctions that used cautionary tales combined with wildly exaggerated melodrama to lure both those in the know and those ignorant of drug culture into the movie house. SSHSN focuses on marijuana’s hyperkinetic effects and association with violence, immorality and insanity. You might say “what a terrible thing to do.” Maybe so, but it was a money maker and could be done on the cheap with a guaranteed audience. The legendary Kroger Babb – producer, distributor, showman - knew this better than anyone. Concerning this movie we have the following from Wikipedia:
With other films, Babb would try different approaches. For She Shoulda Said No!, an anti-marijuana film of the 1950s, he highlighted the sexual scenes and arranged "one-time-only" midnight showings, claiming that his company was working with the United States Treasury Department to release the film "in as many towns and cities as possible in the shortest possible length of time" as a public service. David F. Friedman, another successful exploitation filmmaker of the era, has attributed the "one-time-only" distribution to a quality so low that Babb wanted to cash in and move to his next stop as fast as possible. At each showing of a film, a singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" was also required.
And of course this film has no sex scenes. However, that was not Mr. Babb’s primary concern; ticket sales were. An excellent account of his amazing antics can be found in exploitation filmmaker Dave Friedman’s autobiography A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King. Read it you fool!!
It is also Jack Elam’s film debut and co-stars the always steady Lyle Talbot. But the most interesting story concerns Lila Leeds who plays the female lead and her history with Robert Mitchum. Ms. Leeds and “Bob” were arrested just a year before this movie was made when she, another couple and swaggering Bob were busted at a pot party at the house she was renting in Laurel Canyon.
She's The One With The Weed!
They both ended up doing 60 days in county. Mitchum – who often bragged about walking around LA with a joint tucked behind his ear - claimed the whole thing was a set up. When he and Lyla arrived at the LA police station immediately following their arrest there were already a number of press agencies and photographers present. The LAPD had been criticized in the press for their lax effort against the perceived drug problem and Mitchum said they were just making an example of him to improve public relations. Mitchum’s career suffered none. Sadly poor Lyla became hooked on heroine while in jail and, as far as I can tell, had a rough time of it after getting out with a couple of kids and two broken marriages. In her mid 60s she turned to our Lord Bejesus Christ for comfort. She died at the age of 71. Shit, I knew jail was the best place for pot smokers.
So, according to the timeline Lyla was probably addicted to or in recovery from heroin when this thing was being shot. The movie was to capitalize on her and Bob’s arrest and it surely did. As for the movie she and the supporting cast do a pretty decent job. Lyla, who plays Anne Lester the obligatory young innocent, is corrupted by one slick talking dealer “Markey” played by Alan Baxter with a nasty nasal reminiscent of Jack Nicholson (who was about 12 years old at the time.) Jack Elam, credited as Henchman Raymond, doesn’t have a lot to say but plays it well and with both eyes pointing the same direction. Overall this movie has very good production values, above average acting and, as mentioned, includes the inimitable Lyle Talbot (Captain Hayes) with that wonderful somber, resonant voice. What can I say? I love listening to the man’s voice whatever he is talking about: high school punks, transvestites, UFOs or pot-heads. There is also a scared straight segment where Lyla is being leaned on for info that is done dead-on and has true dramatic impact. So I say watch the movie, enjoy Lyle’s voice and the attractive Ms. Leeds, and wonder just what that pot party was like long ago on a balmy LA night in August of 1948. Four Tightly Rolled Merkins.