Drama, Made for TV Movie

Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction (1983)

0 Comments 06 April 2012

Studio: MGM

Television Premiere: February 27, 1983

DVD Release: March 13, 2012

Director: Paul Wendkos

Not Rated

Review by James Klein

There is nothing like a good old fashioned scare film, especially from the glory days of my childhood…the 1980’s. Back in the day, ABC, NBC or CBS would show a few made for television movies a week. While a few could be a horror or sci-fi movie which I always watched no matter how bad, a lot of them were these overly melodramatic dramas about someone battling some sort of disease or aliment. I still remember Gary Coleman starting fires in Playing With Fire and I still remember the mother of Family Ties battling bulimia in Kate’s Secret or one of my all-time favorites, Richard Crenna suffering from a rape in The Rape of Richard Beck. While these films were trying to tackle serious subjects, they came off really cheesy and so over the top that one couldn’t help but laugh. It didn’t help that these films were made for television and were not allowed to really show or talk about certain subjects.

Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction is another one of those made for television films that could have been great but is caught in the grasp of being a TV movie of the week which wasn’t allowed to really show the dangers of drug use due to the FCC regulations at the time. Hard to believe now with the reality shows that discuss and show drug use, sex, vomiting, bowel movements, and every character being allowed to pretty much say any swear word but the F bomb. But 30 years ago, made for television films had to obey FCC rules thus giving viewers watered down dramas. While many of these films were trying to show the dangers of say drug use in the case of Cocaine, it came off as so watered down and silly, the films themselves would become notoriously campy.

Dennis Weaver stars as Eddie Gant, a real estate salesman who is getting older and can’t quite get the same sales he once had. With a young hot shot salesman slowly taking over the firm, Eddie feels that he’s being pushed aside for someone younger and hungrier. Eddie’s wife Barbara (Little House on the Prairie‘s Karen Grassle) is the ever loving but obviously too naive wife who doesn’t quite understand Eddie’s problems. Eddie’s teenage son Buddy (James Spader) is about to go to college and doesn’t want to go to the school his Dad wants him to attend due to the family’s struggling money issues. When Eddie is introduced by on of his pretty co-workers to cocaine, Eddie turns it down. But when life at work starts to get worse, he soon tries it at a work party and vola, Eddie is a new man. He talks a mile a minute, acts moody, tries to get his youth back by dying his hair and buying new cars. Eddie soon becomes hip…but also addicted.

Dennis Weaver is very good as Eddie and while his antics made me laugh at times due to the fact that cocaine would not instantly make him act this goofy so fast, I couldn’t help but feel Weaver is trying his best here. In fact, all of the actors do their best which is what makes Cocaine a better film than it should have been. When one of Eddie’s poker friends (Jeffrey Tambor) becomes addicted to coke as well and tries to kill himself, he tries to tell Eddie the dangers of the drug which is just so over the top and preachy. We all know what a talented actor Tambor is so it’s obviously the screen writers fault for writing such camp. And why is it that every movie about a drug addict has him spilling his drugs in the toilet? Is this common? Does ever addict become this clumsy?

What I do love about this film is how goddamn 80’s this movie looks. I couldn’t help but get nostalgic for the big hair, big cars, obsession with money and materialistic possessions, the clothing, home decor, styles, and music. While I was watching the film I kept focusing on minor things like someone’s business suit or the way Eddie’s kitchen looked.

Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction is just another exploitation film wrapped up and decorated as a television movie (just look at that title…One Man’s Seduction?). Even after Eddie OD’s, the ending is so watered down and wrapped up in a nice little package, it is a wonder why this film wasn’t accused for making people want to go out and actually use cocaine. Eddie serves no consequences for his actions and is forgiven by his family so easily and quickly that one can’t help feeling cheated by this phony ending.

This is my review. This is my review of Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction. Any questions?

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