Tuesday, June 17, 2014
"The Poppy Is Also a Flower" with Grace Kelly and Omar Sharif (1966)
The War on Drugs has been going on a long time now. This film was produced with funds from the United Nations. It stars many of the big names in Hollywood at the time. It was written by Jo Eisinger from a story by Ian Fleming. The 100 minute film was directed by Terence Young and produced by Euan Lloyd and aired in an 80 minute format on ABC before it was released in its full form to the theaters the following year.
The stars include Stephen Boyd, Senta Berger, Yul Brynner, Trevor Howard, Rita Hayworth, Angie Dickinson and Marcello Mastroianni. Trini Lopez and E.G. Marshall also make appearances in the film, which opens with Grace Kelly explaining what a poppy is, setting the stage for a story about drug smuggling and its effects upon society.
What makes the film so compelling to watch; in spite of it’s being a bit dated; is that it is the same story that is still being played out on the world stage today. “Narco-states”; with plenty of cash to spend; allow the heroin trade to flourish in spite of the best efforts by the entire world to stem the flow of illicit drugs into their own countries.
In this film the heroin trade is coming from the Iranian-Afghan border, where agents working for the United Nations place a nuclear tracking device in a shipment of heroin in order to track it on its journey to Europe.
Some of the filming was done in Iran itself, with weeks spent on location. It was funded by Xerox and the stars all accepted $1 apiece in compensation for their work. Terence Young actually left his job as Director on the film “Thunderball” to take on this project.
The film was the last of a 4 part series of movies made for television by the United Nations to shed light on some of its lesser known activities. It was also released in Europe under the titles “Poppies Are Also Flowers”; “The Opium Connection”; and also as “Danger Grows Wild.”
No matter what you think about the War on Drugs, this film will give you pause to mull over the fact that since at least 1966 the world has expended an awful lot of time and energy; along with money; fighting a battle it cannot ever hope to win.
You can view the full 100 minute film here or watch it on You Tube;