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December 10, 2012

In last week’s post about Jack Elam, I mentioned that one of his first roles was in She

Shoulda Said “No”!, a 1949 exploitation flick.  First known as Wild Weed, it told —

according to its poster on imdb — a “shocking and disturbing tale of debauchery”,

“the story of a good girl gone very, very BAD!


She was “once a blonde beauty” but was “now just a wasted shell”.  Besides the afore-

mentioned dope fiends and harlots, she also had to contend with PAIN & ANGUISH.

And what could complicate chorus girl Anne Lester’s life so?  Marijuana, of course.


Besides the rookie Elam as Henchman Raymond, the film featured such titans of the

silver screen as Knox Manning as Narrator and Rudolph Friml Jr. as Piano Soloist.

Anne, the good to BAD girl, was played by Lila Leeds.  Leeds was a natural choice,

having been arrested the year before with Robert Mitchum for felony narcotics

possession.  They got busted at a pot party.


Leeds did sixty days and was placed on five years probation.  The incident barely

affected Mitchum, who also did some time; but Leeds’ career suffered.  The role

reprising her humiliation was basically her swan song.  Although she did some

publicity work for the film stating that she wanted to stop other youth from using

drugs, she later was more succinct: “I was broke”.


Shot in six days, the film couldn’t find an audience until Kroger Babb bought its

rights.  He changed the original title to The Story of Lila Leeds and Her Exposé of

the Marijuana Racket.  Not quite as catchy as Jaws.


Babb then changed the title to She Shoulda Said “No”!  He promoted the flick by

falsely claiming that the U.S. Treasury Department had implored him to release

the film in “as many towns and cities as possible in the shortest possible length

of time”.


A title card at the start of the movie added to the disinformation.  It said that the

producers wished to “publicly acknowledge the splendid cooperation of the Nation’s

narcotics experts and the Government departments, who aided in various ways the

success of this production . . . If its presentation saves but one young girl or boy from

becoming a ‘dope fiend’ — then its story has been well told.”


The film never rose above B-movie status, but it did make some money.  I could find

no stats about how many young girls or boys it saved from dope fiendness.  A New

York Times review dismissed its merits by saying “never did vice seem so devoid of




We had our first snowfall of the season yesterday, maybe two inches.  It created this

look on the netting we have over the gardens:



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