RVOD015 The Terrible Truth

(1951, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett, and Kevin Murphy

I don't really have a problem with drugs; I just prefer them to living in the fifties.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

An elderly judge and a recovering addict decry the use of marijuana and heroin.


So, going by this picture, Bill's on pot, Kevin's on H, and Mike is standing in as Judge Paranoid Q. Cinder Block.A cinder block-shaped judge expresses his profound disappointment in the youth of today (1951) who insist on embarrassing the other citizens of this proud nation with their unsightly drug habits. He goes to visit a young woman who has recently recovered from heroin addiction. She tells the story of how she got involved with boys in high school, who got her hooked on pot, which got her involved with a dealer, who got her hooked on heroin, which forced her to become a dealer herself in order to afford the habit, which led to her arrest and eventual detoxification. Judge Cinder Block finishes off the short by implying that addicts and dealers are communists.


Okay, so drugs are unhealthy. Worse than that, a bad enough addiction to them can ruin your life and the lives of those you care about. Thus far, I find myself in agreement with the makers of the short.

Now that we’ve established this, Mr. Filmmakers, how on earth do you expect people to take your warnings seriously while you so clearly demonstrate a thorough ignorance of the subject? For those of you keeping track, this is the second Rifftrax On Demand release to depict marijuana as an upper, its users as depraved maniacs, and its dealers as impeccably dressed upper-class professionals. While The Terrible Truth doesn’t mine the subject of addiction for melodrama quite as deeply, it does take its paranoiac overtones a bit further with a ludicrous attempt to make the whole thing Russia’s fault. Far from keeping potential users on the straight and narrow, this short seems more like an excuse for them to laugh and say, “You just don’t get me, man.”

Thankfully, it’s also an excuse for us to laugh, with Mike, Bill, and Kevin on hand to point out the short’s absurdities. When the judge compares an addict’s life to a story by Poe, Kevin objects. “Edgar Allen Poe did more and better drugs than you'll ever know,” he says. When the former addict begins her story, Mike adds, “I don't really have a problem with drugs; I just prefer them to living in the fifties.” When she meets her officially dressed and middle-aged dealer Chuck, Bill explains, “Chuck was Secretary of Education.” It’s a sincere and competently made short, undermined by a painfully paranoid and ignorant worldview. The Rifftrax crew gets off several good jokes at its expense, but for some reason the commentary and the short never quite mesh. Still, the short’s ridiculous enough on its own, and the whole thing turns out at least passably amusing.