For better or worse, the date April 20th infamously sparks an eternal flame in the hearts of potheads across the world in celebration over their vice of choice – and the canon of cinematic stoners is certainly no exception. Hash-loving hippies have long cropped up in motion pictures as anti-establishment icons, quasi-kings of interminable philosophy, and occasionally as crutches for comic relief or character development. While the presence of marijuana in the movies holds a certain time capsule cache in relation to broader anxieties over cultural identity within era-defining films such as Easy Rider or American Beauty or even Children of Men – not to mention its propagandist roots in cautionary tales such as Reefer Madness – it has chiefly acted as a dispensary for daffy, dippy diversions in cannabis-centric comedies like Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle, Half Baked, or Cheech and Chong.
Occasionally, a film strikes Humboldt gold and elevates the presence of the iconic drug to a – ahem – higher place, whether artistically, narratively, or thematically, and the prototypical example would have to be the Coen Brothers’ cult classic The Big Lebowski; that film relies on the aforementioned haze to bolster its emphasis on the transient absurdity of best laid plans, societal systems around class and gender, and sorting personal truths from fiction and lies. And provides the visual opportunity to stage a Busby Berkeley porn parody in an outer space bowling alley with trippy aplomb, a black-and-white stairway to heaven, and Julianne Moore in a Viking helmet.
On that note, who are some of your favorite jokers, smokers, and midnight tokers from the history of cinema?