On Kliph Nesteroff’s essential website Classic Television Showbiz, you can find lengthy, fascinating interviews with many, many figures from the distant past of the worlds of comedy and TV—“distant past” here refers to, ohhh, before Laugh-In, say. Nesteroff’s focus is frequently the Las Vegas of the 1940s through the 1960s, which is a very, very different environment for standup comedy than, say, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Hollywood in 2015 (the main difference is the high influence of the mob—then, not now).
The other day Nesteroff posted the third part of an interview he conducted a few years back with Peter Marshall, best known to many as the host of Hollywood Squares from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. It turns out that in the late 1960s Marshall had a partnership of sorts with actor Dick Gautier, best known as Hymie the robot from Get Smart. Together they penned a screenplay about marijuana use, with the title Maryjane, and the actor who was picked to bring it to the big screen was none other than Fabian, singer of several hits in 1959 (“Turn Me Loose,” “Tiger,” “This Friendly World,” “Come On and Get Me,” etc.) who also epitomized the manufactured pop star that acts like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones would banish from the charts—for a time, anyway. The movie isn’t very good, but everyone involved with the movie seem to agree that it did well, made money.
The director of Maryjane was Maury Dexter, also directed The Day Mars Invaded Earth, Surf Party, and The Mini-Skirt Mob. He wrote in his book Highway to Hollywood: The Hard Way, which is available as a PDF.
The first show that I did for AIP was Maryjane, a script about teens smoking marijuana. There was nothing salacious or offensive about it, but it did have some provocative scenes that showed the results of overindulging and the risks taken when someone needs “a fix.” The picture starred Fabian and Diane McBain. The film did very well at the box office, although, it was far from a big hit. I used the Doheny Mansion in Beverly Hills for some scenes. The stark beauty of the estate set against the ramblings of a young “user” was, I thought, quite effective. Maryjane was shot entirely in the Hollywood area—using mostly “live” or real sets.
As you can see here, the advertising for the movie mimicked the iconic poster of James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause:
Here’s some sample dialogue from a teacher’s conference, with a representative of the law to set them straight on the severity of the problem.
Faculty Member A: Marijuana is not dope.
Faculty Member B: Well, that may be, but their eyes get funny and they act weird and crazy!
Faculty Member A: Oh, they may seem giddy, they may appear excessively relaxed....
Faculty Member C: Sort of like they’re drunk?
Faculty Member A: Yes, yes, in a way….
Faculty Member C: Then what’s wrong with it?
Jack Webb type: Well, I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it! It spreads. Like cancer. First it’s marijuana, then it’s LSD & STP, then it’s heroin & cocaine.
Faculty Member C: You’re saying that marijuana leads to the hard stuff?
Jack Webb-type: The big-time scientists say no. But statistics show that every hard-core addict started with marijuana. Look: Can I tell you something? We picked up three kids for possession of marijuana, and do you know how old they were? Twelve and thirteen and flying high!
More ‘Maryjane’ after the jump…
Posted by Martin Schneider |
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