1968/Director: Maury Dexter/Writers:Maury Dexter, Richard Gautier
Cast: Fabian, Diane McBain, Kevin Coughlin, Michael Margotta, Patty McCormack, Terri Grrr, Richard Gautier (uncredited)
Maryjane is an entertaining little piece of 60’s AIP marijuana exploitation starring teen idol Fabian as high school art teacher Phil Blake. When Blake isn’t working on nailing the frigid girl with a big secret Elli Holden (Diane McBaine) he is trying to hold on to his job and stay out of jail after he confesses to school administrators and the town sheriff he smoked some grass in college and trying to stop ‘good kid’ –but total moody, sniveling wuss- Michael Margotta (Jerry Blackburn) from trying to join the school reefer gang ominously called the Mary Janes. The Mary Janes look like harmless extras from Happy Days. These were the good old days when doper teens all wore letter jackets –since they usually played football- and knit sweaters and the girls looked like proper little cheerleaders. The film was directed by Maury Dexter who did other AIP exploitation gems like The Mini-Skirt Mob, Wild on the Beach, The young Animals and Hell’s Belles. Actually I am not 100% sure if all of those films are AIP productions but the titles sure sound like they should be. Dexter co-wrote the script with Richard (Dick) Gautier whose face would be familiar to anyone who watched prime-time TV in the 70’s. Fabian’s singing career was waning at this time and he made a few pictures for AIP including A Bullit for Pretty Boy Floyd, also directed by Dexter. Gauiter has a brief uncredited role as a prisoner in the film. Also appearing briefly in the film are pretty Teri Garr as a party girl and producer Garry (Happy Days) Marshall as a gas station attendant. The film’s obligatory bad girl is played by the original Bad Seed herself Patty McCormick.
The film is not that bad really though certainly a cheese classic. The acting is not really terrible and the photography and color looked great. Even the ‘day for night’ shots are better than average. The film of course garners harsh criticism online from marijuana apologist who feel the sacred herb is beyond reproach and not in any way unhealthy nor does it impair driving or other motor skills. I think these old films were written and shot with tongue firmly in cheek and with most of the cast and crew buzzed out of their gourds on something or another while it was being made. Look at some of the other AIP drug films like The Trip. Can you imagine that Bruce Dern never fried a brain cell or two. I simply think one has to ‘turn off the old mind, relax and float down stream’ while watching these films and forget about social commentaries. Of course the films throws a few in anyway such as when Blake tries to convince the appalled school administrators that weed is less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol and what a shock to find out little miss goody two shoes Elli the history teachers is far beyond grass. Football jock and drug dealer Jordon Bates (Kevin Coughlin) has finally got her hooked on smack, which is where –we all know by know- smoking the devil’s weed leads all who inhale its evil fumes. Lots of unintentional laughs but not over the top or preachy. Good shit.
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