We now suspend our normal broadcast of Truck Driver Movies to bring you a special public announcement from the FDA regarding the dangers of “bootleg bennies” for truckers everywhere. It comes in the form of a little-known black and white B-movie from the 50s starring Peter Graves and Chuck Connors titled “Death in Small Doses” and it’s a real hoot.
When we say “hoot,” we’re not implying that we don’t believe that methamphetamine is a danger to truck drivers – it’s that we find the anti-drug films of yesteryear kind of hilarious in their low-budget earnestness and overwrought dramatics. Anyone who has seen the trash cinema anti-marijuana feature “Reefer Madness” should understand what we’re saying here.
So what is Death in Small Doses about?
Back in the days before there was an ATF and a DEA operating in the federal government, illicit substances were investigated by either the IRS or the FDA. Neither organization conjured up any images of brick jaw tough guys walking the beat of underworld crime. Well director Joseph M. Newman decided to try and change that, to hilarious effect.
Elevated by an appropriately jittery jazz score, notable for its percussive hophead piano and spare use of strung-out spookhouse organ, “Death in Small Doses” features fast-talking, constantly dancing, pill-popping truck drivers and their ruthless suppliers on both sides of this “million-dollar racket” of the road. Who will crack the case? Upstanding FDA tough guy Tom Kaylor, that’s who.
Kaylor (Graves) poses as a novice truck driver who is looking for a way to gain an edge on his tough delivery schedule, and his main man Mink, already hopped up on ten tons of goofballs, knows just the thing. Mink lets it all hang out whether he’s slapping waitress butts, blaring rock n’ roll out of his car stereo or spilling his coffee while dancing.
Unfortunately we couldn’t find the entire movie streaming on the Web for you to watch, but we do have quite an entertaining segment from the truck diner. And yes, you’re welcome, America.