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Opium in the Movies

Updated on January 31, 2015

Once Upon a Time in America (1984)

Director Sergio Leone's sprawling crime epic follows a group of Jewish mobsters (including Robert De Niro, James Woods and Elizabeth McGovern) who risethe ranks of organized crime1920s New York City. Their story unfoldsflashbacks as ringleader Noodles (De Niro) returns to Brooklyn some 30 years later to reunite and reminisce with his cohorts. Nominated for two Golden Globes, this gritty drama was Leone's last directorial effort.

From Hell (2001)

Johnny Depp stars as an opium-huffing inspectorScotland Yard who falls for one of Jack the Ripper's prostitute targets (Heather Graham) in this Hughes brothers adaption of a graphic novel that posits the Ripper's true identity. Ian Holm and Robbie Coltrane co-star in this genre-bending drama that marked Albert and Allen Hughes's laudable attempt to break out of their pigeonhole as "black directors."

The Quiet American (2002)

Based onnovel by Graham Greene, this murder mystery centers on a love triangle set againstFrench Indochina War in 1952 Vietnam -- a world suffused with opium, intrigue and betrayal. A British reporter, Fowler (Michael Caine, in an Oscar-nominated performance), falls in love with a young Vietnamese woman, Phuong (Do Thi Hai Yen), and is dismayed when (Brendan Fraser) also begins vying for her attention.

Temptress Moon (1996)

The teeming underworld of 1920s Shanghai collides with old-world nobility in Chen Kaige's harrowing film. Ruyi, the youngest daughter of the noble family, is employed as a servant to her opium-addicted father and brother. Meanwhile, Ruyi's brother-in-law, Zhongliang, enjoys a thriving (illegal) career seducing and blackmailing married women in the city. When he comes to Ruyi's home, the two fall in love, and trouble isn't far off.

Entrapment (1999)

When retired thief Robert "Mac" MacDougal (Sean Connery) is implicated in the disappearance of a priceless painting, insurance investigator Virginia "Gin" Baker (Catherine Zeta-Jones) sets a trap to catch her suspect. But Gin is not exactly who she seems. Soon, she and Mac have joined forces to pull off -- quite literally -- the heist of the millennium in this lively crime-caper flick from director Jon Amiel.

Deadwood HBO (2004)

At the height of the gold strike, rebels and outlaws reside in Deadwood, a South Dakota town where everyone is looking out for number one. In Season 1, Wild Bill (Keith Carradine) and Al (Ian McShane) check out a frontier family massacre, a new gambling outfit and more. Deadwood makes its own laws to try a murderer, a treaty with the Sioux Indians is worked out and Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert) enters the scene at the Pest Tent.

Tombstone (1993)

In this fictionalized drama based on real-life characters, legendary marshal Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), now a weary gunfighter, joins his brothers Morgan (Bill Paxton) and Virgil (Sam Elliott) to pursue their collective fortune in the thriving mining town of Tombstone. But Earp is forced to don a badge again and get help from his notorious pal Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) when a gang of renegade brigands and rustlers begins terrorizing the town.

Pandaemonium (2000)

The stormy relationship between famed English poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Linus Roache) and William Wordsworth (John Hannah) is the subject of this lushly filmed period piece from director Julien Temple. Coleridge recounts the early days of their friendship -- from temporarily living the country life together to his own eventual addiction to opium, which fueled his writing of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and spurred Wordsworth's jealousy.

Sherlock Holmes (1993) 'The Dying Detective'

Jeremy Brett as the master sleuth in this adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's short story. Adelaide Savage pleads with Sherlock Holmes to investigate the scientist Culverton Smith who seems to have a dangerous influence over her husband... Adelaide Savage pleads with Sherlock Holmes to investigate the scientist Culverton Smith who seems to have a dangerous influence over her husband Victor. Shortly thereafter, Victor dies of a rare tropical disease -- the subject of Smith's research -- and Holmes sees a lethal connection that puts him in grave danger.

The Good Earth (1937)

Luise Rainer took home her second consecutive Best Actress Oscar for her heartfelt portrayal of O-Lan, the long-suffering spouse of Chinese dirt farmer Wang Lung (Paul Muni) in this film based on Pearl S. Buck's epic tome. The lyrical tale chronicles the couple's changing fortunes as they survive famine and revolution, only to be tested again by avarice, lust and Mother Nature. Karl Freund picked up an Academy Award for his first-rate cinematography.

Apocalypse Now -1979

Francis Ford Coppola's timeless epic adapts Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to the Vietnam War, where special operations Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) must travel deep into the Cambodian jungle to locate and kill the mysterious -- and insane -- Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando). This double feature includes the 1979 Oscar-winning masterwork set in the Vietnam War, along with the re-edited and expanded 2001 director's cut, Apocalypse Now Redux.

It is said that smoking raw unprocessed opium is less addictive. Would you try it in an ideal situation ?

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    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 5 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      Well thanks Joe. I'll look into it. Later.

    • profile image

      Joe 5 years ago

      You forgot the most obvious (and the very first) one

      Chinese opium den (or opium joint as it was originally titled)

    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 6 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      ~ fur sure ..... I couldn't find the particular scene on YouTube, but the actor who played Jim Jones of Giana fame, and he was in Deadwood, he has an Opium scene then after he shoots up the town; something that somebody who just smoked Opium could never do. Leave it to Hollywood, and their own little world.

    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 6 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      fur sure ....... thanks for stopping by .... start a bowl and stay awhile ~

    • Chris Crow profile image

      Chris Crow 6 years ago

      I was hoping you would include the Tombstone opium references and you did!

    • johnwindbell profile image

      johnwindbell 6 years ago from - the land of beards and buggies

      ....and please, if I've missed one, dear scrollers and commenteers alike, let me know. I pride myself on being thorough, and as up-date as possible.