Article by Ed Murrieta, Leafly
Producer-director Lou Adler’s original title for Up In Smoke, the 1978 Paramount counterculture romp about two guys looking to score pot so they can get high and play music, was Cheech & Chong’s Greatest Hit.
It was a punny, derivative title, to be sure, as Adler—the Grammy-winning impresario who’d worked with Carole King and the Mamas and the Papas and promoted the Monterey International Pop Festival—had produced Cheech and Chong’s best-selling comedy records over the previous six years.
“Then I wrote a song called ‘Up In Smoke,’” recalled Tommy Chong, the Chinese-Canadian half of the improv duo that’s celebrating the movie’s 40th anniversary this year with a deluxe boxed set and a re-booted rendition of the title song.
As Chong recalled in a recent interview, thus was Up In Smoke, cinema’s seminal stoner comedy, christened:
“Cheech heard the song and said, ‘That’s the title of the movie.’”
For the 40th anniversary re-issue, Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong and Lou Adler reminisced about “Up In Smoke” with Leafly. While their recollections about creative and financial matters differ—hey, man, Cheech is 71, Chong’s 79 and Adler’s 84—they agree that Up In Smokebroke social and culture barriers, and that the movie remains relevant and funny.