“420 Triple Feature”: Three funny educational shorts to keep you from having an “unpleasant bummer”

By on April 20, 2016

Once again we’ve come to another 4/20 date on the calendar, which is, as this clip’s narrator says, “an internationally recognized holiday as well as a daily excuse for stoners, potheads and even the recreational marijuana user to light up, toke up and blaze a blunt on their way to the euphoric high-way of mental freedom.”

To celebrate, we have a special program of anti-drug social guidance shorts for you to giggle at, gathered here as 420 Triple Feature. Watch it today, at 4:20pm!, on our Night Flight Plus channel.


We’ve previously told you about what it was like to take a trip to the early 70s head shop, but this triple feature is more similar in content to some of those anti-drug propaganda films we’ve previously shared with you (some of them mighty psychedelic).

If that’s what you’re keen to see on 4/20, then come and take a trip with us down memory lane with some of these hilarious “educational” films, focusing mostly on the subject of smoking pot and what could happen to you if you do, although you’ll also notice that the makers of this triple feature didn’t keep the propaganda limited to just marijuana, which is what Night Flight fave Reefer Madness was all about.


Keep Off The Grass (1969) is first up, and was produced in cooperation with the Santa Monica Police Department, along with acting students from the Santa Monica City College Theatre Arts department. The film begins with a close-up on a copy of Cream’s Disraeli Gears and pulls back to show the world’s oldest looking teenager Tom’s mother vacuuming when she finds his pot stash.

What better way than to illustrate what’s included on this triple-threat that to simply repeat what the narrator of this promo clip tells us:

“Follow along with Tom in Keep off the Grass from 1969, as he gets busted for ‘blowin’ grass’ by his parents.”


Tom talks his drug use over with his dad, played by veteran character J. Edward McKinley — you’ll have seen him in tons of movies, including the Blake Edwards’s film The Party (he played studio head Fred Clutterbuck in that one), as well as tons of TV shows including “The Rockford Files,” one of our personal faves — and Dad is pretty mellow about Tom’s pot use, but you’ll just have to watch what happens when Tom leaves safety of his parents home and ends up at a college-age pot party being thrown at an artist named Waco’s pad.


The next film short is a black & white flashback to the early 50s and was made by the Encyclopedia Britannica and sponsored by the Juvenile Protection Association of Chicago and The Wieboldt Foundation.

The story chiefly concerns the temptations faced by one Marty Malone, a clean-cut kid in the early 1950s who succumbs to peer pressure, then ends up smoking pot and before it’s all over, he’s cut his mouth on a Pepsi bottle, which should stand as a clear warning to all of you out there reading this that you shouldn’t try to drink soft-drinks when you’re stoned, and if you do, you shouldn’t try to eat the bottle.


Marty’s life spirals out of control, and he ends up losing his part-time job at the grocery store, worrying his parents, and getting snubbed by all the other clean-cut teens. He turns to shoplifting and thievery to support his habit, and finally becoming a drug pusher, the pot smoking leading him ” down a dark path of drug dealing, beating children with baseball bats, eating broken glass and finally an addiction to heroin!” Now that sounds like a bad trip, but that’s what happens with Drug Addiction.


Finally, and rounding up this triple threat, is the classic short late-sixties film — we’re back to fully saturated and time-faded color for this one, by the way — which is imaginatively titled Marijuana (1968), featuring a glassy-eyed and possibly stoned Sonny Bono (he wasn’t, he was just tired) giving us answers to the questions we may have had about marijuana in order for us to determine whether or not pot is the right drug for us. Or not.


One of our favorite things about this is that Bono seems to be wearing a pair of orange silk pajamas, and we also liked the fact that Gene Clark of the Byrds contributed a song to the soundtrack (he was out of the Byrds at that point, however)

Here’s a description of the film from Mental Hygiene: Classroom Films 1945-1970 by Ken Smith (Blast Books, 1999):

MARIJUANA, Avanti FIlms, 1968, 34 minutes. This film is narrated by cultural icon Sonny Bono, which provides some indication of its credibility. Sonny, who looks and sounds as if he were stoned, announces that this film will present the facts ‘and only the facts.’ He then proceeds to explain that people who smoke marijuana ‘run the risk of an unpredictable and unpleasant bummer.’ This is demonstrated by a pot smoker who stares at his reflection in a mirror — until his face is replaced by a rubber monster mask! He’s ‘tripped out,’ Sonny explains, which is just the same as being an alcoholic “square and unhip adult.”


For most people, it’s Bono stilted, stone-y performance — he truly does look like he’s had a few tokes himself, but Bono was actually pretty anti-drug  — that makes this one a memorable little film you’ll want to see again if you haven’t seen it in a while.

We love it when he tells us we have a choice whether or not to become a pothead, or not:

“If you become a pothead you risk blowing the most important time of your life: your teen age. That unrepeatable time for you to grow up and to prepare for being an adult that can handle problems, and make something meaningful out of life.

“Or, you have the choice to have the courage to see and deal with the world for what it really is – far, far from perfect but for you and for me the only one there is.

“While it’s true that some of you will actually go to the moon and perhaps other planets, it’s also true that in a few short years, this world will be your establishment, and you will be the Establishment and what you do or don’t do about it will be your scene. Your the generation with the brain power and the opportunity to do more for the human needs of this world than any other generation in history.

“Let’s hope your teenage children don’t have too much criticism of what you did or didn’t do because you were on pot.”

However you choose to spend your 4/20 today, we hope it’s a pleasant experience and you don’t get hassled by anyone and end up having “an unpredictable and unpleasant bummer.”


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.