Thursday, June 30, 2016

Flowers of Darkness (1972)

Director: William Templeton

Writer: Don Peterson

Composer: E. Robert Velazco

Starring: Paul Newman, Vernon Hann, Jack Hurst, Sherman N. Kieffer, Charles Siragusa

More info: IDMb

Plot: The life of man is poor and nasty. A few plants give temporary relief: marijuana, alcohol, and opium. After a history of opium, including the 19th-century Opium Wars, we learn of the discovery of heroin; the rest of the film examines heroin trade and addiction in the U.S. Two tons a year enter the U.S., with only 100 pounds interdicted. Most is used in New York City. Interviews with customs officials, prosecutors, medical doctors and junkies provide points of view. The harsh 1956 law and the medically-oriented law of 1966 are contrasted, with the film on the side of treatment and rehabilitation. It ends with advocating reducing use here and finding other cash crops for farmers abroad.

My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

In 22 minutes, Paul Newman tells us about the history of the opiates and how the poppy plant gets processed to finally make it to the street and how much this stuff goes for along the way.  Then we hear from heroin addicts.  Next on Newman's Own Drug Tour we get to the law side of the story and what's being done to get these hopheads and dope fiends behind bars.  And we end up seeing what people are doing to get these folks off the drugs.  Paul Newman says we are all potential drug takers (he includes my beloved alcohol in his list of drugs).   Is it worth watching?  It's Paul Newman schooling us on drugs, the history, problems and solutions.  It's an interesting piece of school PSA film history in that you get to see vintage footage of all kinds of things, especially New York City from over forty years ago.  It's not worth much more than a look for curiosity's sake. 

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