Paul Newman hosts and narrates this 1965 anti-drug abuse and addiction educational film called Bennies and Goofballs. It looks at the dangers of illegal stimulants and tranquilizers.
"We're talking about pep pills and sleeping pills," says a somber Newman, doing his best impression of Jack Webb lecturing a teenage glue-sniffer on Dragnet. Amphetamines — the pep pills — are commonly called [film break] and stay-awake pills. In the jargon of the misuser, they're often referred to as bennies, hearts, co-pilots, and west coast turnarounds. Barbiturates — the sleeping pills — have colorful names: goofballs, yellowjackets, blue heavens, and rainbows. These rather gay and affectionate nicknames highlight the magnitude of the illegal traffic in these drugs. And they also reflect the casual manner in which pep pills and sleeping pills are handled and consumed."
Newman then introduces the director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, who woodenly recites a barrage of damning statistics.
The real fun starts when the film interviews people who took bennies and goofballs. One man is a truck driver who took so many pep pills to stay awake on a long haul, that he hallucinated an apparition similar to the one in The Twilight Zone episode of "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."
I found it interesting that Newman said bar-bih-CHUR-its. I've always heard it pronounced bar-BIH-chew-its. The director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pronounced it bar-BITCH-your-eights. Are all three pronunciations correct?
The beginning of the film has some exciting Kenyon Hopkins-esque jazz, but it stops after a few seconds and doesn't resume until the end credits roll. Bummer!