The Cool and the Crazy


1h 18m 1958

Brief Synopsis

50's version of "Reefer Madness."

Film Details

Release Date
May 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Imperial Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

In a small Midwest town, teenager Ben Saul transfers to a new school after his release from a reformatory. In English class, taught by Mrs. Ryan, the rambunctious students, led by Jackie Barzan, are taken aback by the level of Ben's offhand impertinence. After class, Ben drives to the Aberdeen Hotel, where he meets with Eddie, a drug dealer for whom he sold drugs before reform school. Ben reports that the restless local teens are an ideal market for drugs. Eddie approves, but cautions Ben to stay away from smoking. Driving into town that evening, Ben finds Jackie and his friends, who dare him to do something risky. Ben agrees and drives to the police station as Jackie and his friend, Stu Sommerville, follow. Inside the police station, the officers are unimpressed by Ben's flippant behavior, but Jackie is amazed by Ben's bravado. Stu, however, is resentful of Ben's appeal. Driving away in Ben's car, Jackie praises Ben for his independence and self-assuredness, yet moments later, must abruptly take the steering wheel when Ben, who has been smoking pot, nearly drives into an oncoming car. Ben purchases food and beer for the gang and invites them to an impromptu night picnic. Away from the others, Ben apologizes to the suspicious Stu by offering him a marijuana joint, then Jackie suggests the gang go to a nearby dance hall. By the time they arrive at the Blue Note club, however, Stu is high and behaving recklessly, which alarms Jackie. When some of the other boys, whom Ben has also provided with marijuana, begin fighting, Jackie forces them to leave the hall and accidentally knocks down Amy, a classmate. Embarrassed by the erratic behavior of the others, Jackie offers to escort Amy home. Ben checks back in with Eddie to report that he has successfully gotten several teens smoking marijuana. Eddie cautions Ben to make sure they are indeed hooked on the pot before trying to move them onto more potent drugs and again warns him not to make the mistake of smoking himself. The next day at the local soda shop, many of the teens are hung-over or unwell from the previous night's activities. A police sergeant stops by to chastise the kids for the fight at the Blue Note. After the officer departs, Stu and Charles "Cookie" Tyler both plead with Ben for more pot, which confuses Jackie, who is unaware of their doings. Ben insists they pay him first, and the boys grow desperate. The next day Eddie picks up Ben for their usual meeting, but when Ben admits that he has been unable to collect any money from his "clients," Eddie declares an end to their partnership. The following day at school, Cookie beseeches Ben for more pot, but Ben insists he can do nothing unless Cookie pays him. After class Jackie reveals to Ben that he had seen Amy on the night after the dance and attended church with her the day before, but Ben remains distant. After Ben continues to his next class, an edgy Cookie pulls Jackie aside to show him a gun and asserts that he is going to rob a store to get money. When Jackie presses Cookie for an explanation, Cookie reveals he is desperate for more marijuana and Jackie is stunned. He urges Cookie to wait and promises to get him the money, unaware that Mrs. Ryan has been watching the boys. Later that day, Jackie visits Amy at home and secretly steals a valuable antique figurine, then slips away to the soda shop to find Cookie. Stu, angry and frustrated by Ben's abrupt disappearance, taunts Jackie, and the figurine is accidentally broken just as Amy arrives searching for Jackie. Jackie hastens to explain to Amy that he needs money because he is taking drugs, and she leaves sad and disappointed. Meanwhile, Ben is searching his father's apartment for money when the police, summoned by Mrs. Ryan, arrive. The sergeant informs Ben that Cookie was killed during a robbery attempt, but Ben claims to have no knowledge of why Cookie needed money. Jackie goes to Ben to ask for money to repay Amy, but Ben is incredulous at Jackie's naiveté and furious that Amy knows about the drugs. Ben insists he had nothing to do with Cookie's death, but frightened, goes to see Eddie at his hotel to demand money and help in case the authorities return for him. Eddie scoffs at Ben, who stabs him in a burst of fury. Jackie goes to the soda shop to tell the others about Cookie. When Ben telephones Jackie at the shop and pleads to meet with him and Amy, Stu insists on coming along. Jackie visits Amy and she reveals that she knew he was lying to cover up for Cookie, and assures him he is not to blame. Reluctantly Amy agrees to meet Ben with Jackie and Stu. When Ben leaves the Aberdeen, the police follow him after examining the hotel room and finding Eddie dead. Having smoked more pot, Ben is high and on his way to meet Jackie and the others when he nearly hits them head on and, swerving, goes over a ravine where his car explodes. Jackie is hysterical, but the police sergeant forces the teens to watch Ben's car burn, telling them that the accident is the result of drugs.

Film Details

Release Date
May 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Imperial Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Quotes

Trivia

Richard Bakalyan and Dickie Jones were arrested by Kansas City police for vagrancy as they stood on the street between takes. The police saw their long hair and leather jackets and wanted to get them off the street before they "infected" the local youth.

Notes

The following written prologue appears in the onscreen credits: "The motion picture you are about to see deals with teenage dope addiction. The events depicted herein are not typical. They are based on isolated incidents. No dramatic presentation can possibly offer an adequate solution to the problem, and it is not the intention of the producers that any of the following material should be considered as such." The film closes with the following epilogue: "The solution of the problems of the teenage dope addicts in the film you have just seen have been greatly simplified for story purposes. However, it is the sincere hope of the producers that this production will raise the guard of teenagers and their parents against the awful perils of narcotic addiction and dramatic license has been taken toward this end."
       According to an August 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, Robert Altman, who had directed Imperial Productions' first picture, the 1957 release The Delinquents (see below), was to direct five more films for the company. A September 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Dorothy Crider was to star for Altman in The Big Smoke, and it is possible that The Big Smoke eventually became The Cool and the Crazy, as within the film, the teens all refer to marijuana as "smokes." The word "marijuana" is spoken only once in the picture, by a police officer. The Hollywood Reporter review of The Cool and the Crazy noted an incident prompted by teen crime some weeks before the film's debut and expressed concern over films glorifying teen violence.
       In the early 1990s, the Showtime cable network produced a series of films loosely based on several 1950s AIP "juvenile delinquency" pictures. In 1994, Showtime broadcast Cool and the Crazy, which was directed by Ralph Bakshi and starred Jared Leto and Alicia Silverstone.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1990

Released in United States Spring March 1958

Shown at Film Forum (They Came From the Arkoff Archive) in New York City October 26 - November 15, 1990.

Released in United States 1990 (Shown at Film Forum (They Came From the Arkoff Archive) in New York City October 26 - November 15, 1990.)

Released in United States Spring March 1958