This webpage was originally written as part of a book addendum dealing with Anslinger’s Gore File.


Assassin of Youth Matchbook Devils Harvest marihuana

Back in 1934 when then Commissioner of Narcotics Harry Anslinger made the decision to go after Marihuana, he understood that he was facing numerous obstacles:
  •   Cannabis not only had a long history of medical use, but could literally be found in numerous medicines on just about any drugstore shelf.

  •   It’s seeds were in widespread use in various food products (both human and in animal feed).

  •   It’s numerous industrial uses, everything from paint manufacturers to chemical plants, made it had to replace.

  •   In a world without synthetic plastics, numerous cloth/canvas manufacturers were still making wide use of the plants fibers.

  •   But worse still, although in great decline due to cheap imports, it was still being grown throughout our nation’s farmlands.
And the list could on. But as if to add insult to injury; unlike opium or cocaine, this plant could be grown locally. In fact it was even growing wildly in vacant lots throughout the country. Thus Anslinger had quite a sales job on his hands and he knew it. But (evil genius that he was), he was quite up to the job.

He quickly (and correctly) figured out that his best bet was to create a hysteria campaign based around the plant. One orchestrated in such a way so as to emphasize the most heinous of human behaviors. Soon lots stories about bestial crimes, allegedly committed by maria-Juana addicts began to be circulated by Anslinger’s Bureau of Narcotics. Especially sex crimes involving young white-girls with “God Forbid!” young black men (and/or Brown, Filipino), etc. --- All of which according to Anslinger, were committed as a direct result of Medical Cannabis use. Thus he would argue, there was a need for a set of Federal Laws to either outlaw and/or regulate this terrible “Weed of Madness.”

And as history has confirmed, Anslinger, who seems to have had a total understanding of the mindset of his times, hit the target right on the head. His hysteria campaign not only worked, it even generated the support of federal elected officials from Industrial Hemp growing states.

HOWEVER, it didn’t take a genius like Anslinger very long to figure out that what was good before the passage of the law, while he was still trying to get it passed, was bad soon thereafter. After all, the campaign itself, while making use of actual/factual material, was in essence, based on lies and Anslinger was well aware of that fact. Thus, now that the law was well in place, not only was there no need for the hysteria campaign, but the very fact that it had even taken place was a danger to him. What if just one major newspaper spilled the beans (so to speak)? What would then personally happen to him? And even more important, what would happen to his precious, precious anti-Marihuana laws?

Obviously, what Anslinger now wanted was, while keeping new Marihuana laws in place, was for everyone to forget the whole hysteria campaign had even taken place. Out of sight, out of mind so of speak. However, that was all going to be a bit difficult to do, especially after he himself had whipped up (quite literally) the hysteria in the first place. In fact it is a tribute to the man (evil as he was) that he was able to pull it off. Literally, he not only created the campaign, but then also succeeded in erasing it from living memory; a subject that really needs to be covered, and one I plan on doing at another time. Here however due to space limitations, I will/must limit myself to the subject at hand – the Film Industry. – And while not stated explicitly, it is obvious from the following example that film censorship boards and local (ah) decency laws could/were used to control the situation. The following serves as a good example of the steps Anslinger was taking to begin his cover up.

          --- AND ANSLINGER’S ROLE:

Starting in early part of 1938 (or after the passage of the MTA), this newspaper movie ad started to run in various local theaters:

Assassin of Youth

Note that the ad brazenly quotes a magazine article written by Harry Anslinger himself; thus making it appear that he was openly endorsing, if not responsible for, the movie itself. In addition various newspaper headlines (more of Anslinger’s creations) are also shown. A matter that did not go unnoticed by the commissioner, who ordered an investigation into the film. An investigation whose goal now was to have the movie censored; Its results are as follows:

Assassin of Youth

Assassin of Youth

Assassin of Youth

February 1, 1938
Subject: Motion Picture “Assassin of Youth.”
Mr. Thomas F. Cumming,
Acting District Supervision,
Bureau of narcotics,
Chicago, Illinois.
  1.   Please be referred to the attached memorandum addressed to yourself signed Will S. Wood, Acting Commissioner, together with a copy of letter addressed to Mr. J.B. Greeson, District Supervisor, Kansas City, Missouri, dated January 27, 1938 signed Will S. Wood, Acting Commissioner, received at this office January 28, 1938, wherein request is made for investigation and report, the letter being self-explanatory.

  2.   In this connection, I have to report as directed by you, on January 29, 1938 at 10:00 AM, a visit was made to the World Playhouse Theatre, 410 So. Michigan Avenue, this city, where a preview of the picture in question was to be shown, an interview was had with Mr. Albert Dezel, Owner and Manager: Albert Dezel Roadahows, operating from 831 So. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, phone Webster 7237. Mr. Dezel stated that he controls the leasing rights to the picture throughout the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, secured from Mr. Leo. J. McCarthy, Producer, and that the picture “assassin of Youth” has no connection with the picture “Marihuana” recently exhibited at Chicago, Illinois, also, that Roadshow Attractions Corporation, Messrs, Esper, Maple and Reed controlling the latter picture are in no shape, manner or form associated in the ownership, management or leasing of the picture “Assassin of Youth”, that the letter picture was produced based on the article appearing in the July 1937 issue of the American Magazine, Pages 18-150-151-192 and 1953 entitled Marijuana: Assassin of Youth, by H.J. Anslinger, U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics, with Courtney Ryley Cooper, and was produced at Grand National Studios, Hollywood, California, by B.C.M. Productions, the cast of characters being as follows:
    Arthur Brighton played by Arthur Gardner
    Joan Barre “ “ Luana Walters
    Jack Howard “ “ Michael Owen
    Marge Barre “ “ Dorothy Short
    Linda Clayton “ “ Fay McKenzie
    “Pop" Brady “ “ Earl Dwire
    Mrs. Barre “ “ Dorothy Vaughan
    Miss Friabie “ “ Fern Emmett
    Judge Herbert “ “ Henry Roquemore

  3.   According to Mr. Albert Dezel the picture consists of 8 reels of film estimated at 8.000 feet and the running time 74 minutes. The preview was attended by about 35 women and 3 or 4 men the letter including the writer, the women attending representing womens clubs and organizations interested in clean picture shows and the general welfare of the youth of this country in general, among whom were Mrs. McClurg, Mrs. Lehman and Mrs. Frankenfield. The picture showing started about 10:20 AM and finished around 11:30 AM, after which at the request of Mr. Dezel there was some informal discussion as to the merit or demerit of the picture, which the writer refused to take part in, simply listening, and what the women present who expressed themselves seemed mostly to deplore was the fact that the picture could not be shown at the first class moving picture houses, on account of as Mr. Dezel explained it has been “banned” by the Will Hays organization, consequently, it can not be shown at the show houses controlled by Fox, 29th Century, Paramount, Warner Bros, R.K.O., and Balaban and Katz, therefore, the only houses open to the picture, as he stilled them “Dump Houses” such as The Gem Theatre, 450 So. State Street, Chicago, Illinois, where it is now having shown on a percentage basis less advertising 25% of the net, admission prices AM to 12:30 PM 15˘, 12:30 PM to 6:30 PM 25˘ 6:30 PM to 12:00 Midnight 35˘, but that Mr. Leo J. McCrthy, Producer, had gone to Washington, D.C., to place the matter before government officials in charge of Anti-Trust violations in connection with the closing of the big show houses to his picture.

  4.   At my request Mr. Dezel furnished me with copies of all of the paper need in the advertising of the picture consisting of the following which are herewith attached, are self-explanatory and made a part of this report:

      No. 1.   Publicity: Synopsis, Cast of Characters, and excerpts from books and magazines, also opinions by various law enforcement officers.

      No. 2.   Orange Colored Sheet: Showing scenes from the picture.
      Parents Arise What: Inflamed Passions Beating In The Breasts young moderns; boys and Girls “Going to town: - Morals Gone With the Wind ; Look Out: The truth about the latest craze; Passions Unleashed by “Innocent Fun” and endorsements from Henry Horner, Governor of Illinois, Gay C. White, President, Springfield Council of Churches. Mrs. Paul Taft, President, Illinois Federation of Women’s Clubs. Rebbi E. Louis Cardon, and John W. Knapp, Jr., Mayor, Springfield, Illinois.

      No. 3.   Exhibitors Campaign Book: Four sheets sight pages, showing scenes from the picture with titles, and copies of endorsements from various organizations and persons.

      No. 4.   In conclusion will state that after viewing the picture “Assassin of Youth” thrown on the screen, in my opinion this picture has no merit either from an educational or moral stand point, but on the contrary depicts scenes charged against the youth of this country, that are sensational in the extreme, overdrawn, and debasing to the morals of parsons viewing the hideous spectacle, furthermore, as the father of two boys and girls ranging in age from 15 to 20, it is my sincere hope that none of them will ever be placed in a position of viewing such low and depraved scenes.
(signed) Narcotic Agent.
J.V. Callahan

Now let’s look at exactly what was really being said here, minus the pretty coded language:
  •   First note the letter’s date “Feb. 1, 1938” , or exactly five months AFTER the passage of the M.T.A. (Marihuana Tax Act), meaning the switch from hysteria to cover up had already taken place.

  •   Next, note that the investigation was launched less than a day after receiving instructions to do so. Also that the letter authorizing/ordering the investigation (dated Jan 27, 1938) must have been sent via special airmail as it got there the following day (Jan 28), and that the investigation took place the following day and typed up and out the door two days thereafter. -- TRANSLATION: This subject was of some importance to someone way up high and everyone at the Bureau of Narcotics was aware of it.

  •   Now note that Esper’s name (as well as that of his company), were made mentioned of in the report. WHY? -- As mentioned elsewhere, Dwain Esper was Anslinger’s good working buddy and as such would have enjoyed some sort of immunity. Thus without question, HAD Esper been involved , the whole investigation would have either been terminated right-there-and-then, or at least would have been worded a lot more favorably.

  •   Mostly women representing Women’s Civic Organizations attended the mentioned preview of the movie. As per the report, most of them thought well about the movie itself. -- TRANSLATION: Such were the times. This occurred only months away from the worst of the hysteria campaign, so that even civic-women’s organizations were caught up in it. AND as it appears that the Bureau of Narcotics was behind the movie; --No wonder Anslinger now had to censor/silence these types of films.

  •   According to salesman Albert Dezel, the film was produced based on the article “Assassin of Youth” that appeared in the American Magazine (July 1937) which was apparently written by Anslinger himself. -- TRANSLATION: Talk about blowback, no wonder the women supported the film. It appears that it was Anslinger’s own propaganda campaign that inspired the movie in the first place. Meaning that it was going to be hard to claim that the events were being fabricated.

  •   After the film was shown, the merits or demerits of the film where then discussed. Note that no unfavorable statements were made. TRANSLATION: For good or for bad, the hysteria campaign had been so good that people actually believed it. Thus, Anslinger knew that he had a long road ahead of him to undo what he had created in the first place.

  •   Now note the prices of admission; 15˘, 25˘, 35˘! Please keep in mind that 1938 was during the middle of the great depression and the regular price of admission was somewhere between 10˘ to 35˘, and at the time people expected to see two films, a cartoon, a news-reel (TV had not yet been invented), and who knows what else.

  •   Next, note that “Balaban and Katz” (a set of self imposed censorship rules) or film standards are mentioned, AND the fact that this film does not meet those standards. -- TRANSLATION: This film (et al) could be thought of as easy pickings for the censorship boards. All that was needed was one of Anslinger’s front groups to launch a complaint of one type or another.

  •   Next, the report lists the enclosed newspaper ad’s for the movie, here for the sake of brevity (as well as much shorter download times) only a couple of them are shown:
  • Assassin of Youth Assassin of Youth

  •   Last of all, the report ends with its author (Narc Caliahan) chiming in with his own personal opinion. A very negative opinion, which coincidentally would have been exactly what his boss Anslinger himself would have wanted to hear at the time. -- One could only wonder what Caliahan’s personal opinion would have been had he been making the report just a few months prior to the passage of the MTA.
But in any case, the long and the short of the report is that in terms of trying to censor the movie, it’s a go.

    There are no known investigations by the ‘Bureau of Narcotics’, or for that matter by any other Federal Bureau BEFORE the passage of the M.T.A. Additionally, there is evidence that Anslinger’s Bureau OPENLY cooperated/supported with the creation of ‘Maria-Juana’ themed movies.

    Yet soon after the passage of the M.T.A, (almost like a light bulb switch) not only did the Bureau effectively end such cooperation, at appears that several investigations such as the one above took place.

    It appears (although never stated openly) that the goal of these investigations was to obtain info/evidence that could/would then be used by censorship boards (either statewide or local) to remove the stated films from distribution. The overall idea being not only to remove them from public theaters, but to also make it economically unprofitable to produce anymore such films, etc.

    It was also noticed (while doing research for this web-page) that ONLY marihuana themed movies seem to have attracted the ire of the Commissioner. Example; The 1948 movie production “TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH” was not only produced with the complete cooperation of Anslinger’s Bureau, but it was even said that he initiated the film script himself. And talk about shocking and bold, just look at what this one poster says about that move:

    To the Ends of the Earth Poster “TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH” *
    SHOCKING because it reveals for the first time a world-wide crime ring that did a billion-dollar business in violence, intrigue . . . and death!

    TRUE because it’s based on hitherto secret files of the U.S. Treasury’s Bureaus of Narcotics, Coast Guard and customs!

    TERRIFIC drama that took two years to film in Shanghai, Cario, Havana and far corners of the world!

Thus (once again), it appears that ONLY MARIHUANA THEMED or what were now seen as embarrassing theme movies, were being selected by Anslinger for censorship.

  As per
[2]-   Narcotic (1933) was one of Dwain Espirs earlier films.
[3]-   “BOLD! DARING! SHOCKING! TRUE!” by Eric Schaefer p231:
[3B]-   Ibid, in footnotes No. 55/56, chapter 6, Page 427
[3C]-   Ibid, in footnotes No. 56, chapter 6, Page 427
[5]- page 2 June 15, 1938 Variety
[6a,b]-   American Film Institute -


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