Storm Signal

1966, 53 mins


Robert Drew

Executive Producer

James Lipscomb

Producer - Narrator - Photographer

Frank Simon


Mike Jackson


Tom Johnson


Peter Van Dyke


Dan Halas


Jean Swain

Production Manager

Chet Baker

Horn Solos, Limelight Records


First Prize, 1966 Venice International Film Festival


"An intimate film study of the totally demoralizing effect of narcotics addiction"

Jack Gould, The New York Times

"This film put a face of normalcy on addiction and thus promoted compassion for an affliction that had previously been dismissed or condemned"

Oksana Dykyi, Educational Media Reviews Online

"The film is a gripping documentation of how drugs subvert and eventually take control of every aspect of an addict's life"

David Martin, Life Magazine

The film enters the lives of a young couple who are slipping further and further into the clutches of addiction.

Jim and Helen live modestly in the Bronx with their young child. Four years into their marriage, Jim persuades Helen to try heroin, and soon they are both stuck in a bitter cycle of dependency. Desperate measures and a swiftly developing addiction tightens the grip around their family’s throat dimming their future day-by-day.

When Jim is imprisoned for stealing to supply their habit, Helen is forced either to seek drugs on her own – or to beat her addiction. Intimately filmed by living with the couple for four months, “Storm Signal” studies the devastating impact of addiction on the lives of families.

“Storm Signal” was the product of a challenge Drew received from Xerox Corporation, which, in 1966, was a big-time sponsor of public affairs programming. Drew recalled that Xerox asked him to name a topic no network would touch. Drew replied, “heroin addiction.” Xerox told him it would fund such a film and then, when, indeed, no network would air it, Xerox bought time on a dozen syndicated stations and aired the program.

It became one of the 10 most-watched specials of the year and was awarded a First Prize at the Venice Film Festival.


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