It stinks, carcinogenic, causes premature aging, yellows your fingers, stains your teeth and is bloody expensive. So why do people smoke? As a non smoker who has never had so much as a crafty drag as teenager. The appeal of smoking has always been lost on me. Maybe it is in part linked to its association of being cool. All the cool kids smoked, likely they stole their parents or siblings cigarettes. Then buying their own once they looked old enough. Plus all the icons of cool such as James Dean, rock stars etc would have a confident exhaling of smoking. Creating an atmosphere of mystery and panache.
However, while I would rather put my money towards a Chanel handbag then something that will ultimately disintegrate. I do appreciate the appeal of smoking on the screen. Film noir especially was meant for smoking. The sight of a femme fatale (or homme) nursing a whisky or a vodka martini taking a deliberate and seductive drag on a cigarette. The smoke hovering around them, making them actually seem as effervescent as the cloud around them. The old trick of asking someone for a light or a lady taking out a cigarette and a troupe of chumps with their lighters. Hoping that the seductress chooses them to illuminate her. One of my favourite films is ‘The Doom Generation’ serving as Rose McGowan’s big screen debut. While it is a very modern, angst ridden film. McGowan’s character is very much in keeping with certain femme fatale mode. Red lips, a filthy smart mouth and a ready cigarette makes her a non traditional bad girl. Other smoking hot temptresses include Catherine Deneuve in ‘The Hunger’ combining YSL with gothic eroticism. Angelina Jolie as Gia Carangi in ‘Gia’, with her seductive swagger and tender frailty. Of course who could forget Uma Thurman in ‘Pulp Fiction’, even in rather masculine attire Thurman radiates star quality. For me, the most iconic smoking scene is Marlene Dietrich in ‘Shanghai Express’. When Dietrich’s Shanghai Lily is on a train and the way the lighting and the cigarette smoke mingle. It is spellbinding.
Here is where I want to see cigar and cigarettes. On screen and in frames. Not in real life.