Weed respite: Ganja and the Duke
Apologies to John McElwee of the excellent Greenbriar Picture Shows for pilfering these Italian (above) and German (below) posters for foreign versions of Big Jim McLain (1952). A rock ‘em, sock ‘em McCarthy-era exposé of commie pinko infiltrators in Hawaii, those living Outside The Box (re: anyone not susceptible to willy-nilly American fear campaigns) were less likely to comprehend the ‘threat,’ prompting overseas distributors to replace John Wayne’s mission with marijuana trafficking instead — or, Donovan’s Reefer. “Look at Big Jim McLain (currently a Netflix HD stream),” John explains, “and see how easy its jigsaw might mix or match. Remove opener/closing portions, revolved around HUAC hearings, and this pic could be about anything, so devilishly simple are changes you’d apply to a simple-minded one-size-fits-all format.” An alcoholic Republican the present GOP/Tea Party (and this babbling yahoo) can look up to, Joe McCarthy inspired the equally narrow minds of his generation — but Hollywood (that hotbed of lefty sympathizers) was virtually clueless when it came to visualizing The Enemy. As in The Woman on Pier 13 (aka I Married a Communist, 1949) and the remarkable Shack Out on 101 (1955), Big Jim McLain sidestepped pertinent sociopolitical issues for a standard (and far from compelling) gangster movie, the would-be perps reduced to sweaty, second-tier Little Caesars operating on hazy agendas.