Top 10 movies that made me want to smoke cigarettes
As far back as I can remember – which only goes back to when I was 13 because all that was before was just glitter glue and Nickelodeon shows – I’ve wanted to cigarettes.
There’s this point you get to in mid-puberty where being alive is so awkward and every little thing someone does sends you into a spiral of anger and despair, that you just don’t know what to do with it. yourself. Are you having a temper tantrum? Are you quietly fleeing your home? Are you doing it in a heinous way to prove a point to your idiot parents? You go through every possible scenario and weigh your results.
After calculating that for a good minute, you realize you’re broke, underqualified for most jobs, and without a car. You decide it’s best to sit on the roof and write poetry that your 20-year-old self will reread years later and physically cringe. It was in those moments, when I felt so helpless and trapped, that I could literally taste the cigarette in the back of my mouth. Somehow I was sure that smoking a cigarette would calm my nerves and calm the screams inside my head. I had never had one and yet all I could think about was how good it must be to be an adult and shamelessly smoke a cigarette when upset.
After some thought, and after a three year long battle with a relentless nicotine addiction, I came to the conclusion that there could be only one reason why I had felt this way about cigarettes. : movies. Movies make us think that people who do “bad” things, like slowly clogging your airways with burnt tar, are sexy and attractive. Unfortunately, I completely agree (sorry mum). Here are my Top 10 movies that, growing up, glorified smoking and convinced me that if I did, I would actually be cool.
10. 101 Dalmatians
Even at five years old, I was ready to admit that Creulla de Vil demanded and deserved respect. As mean as she was, she was also mean hot and mean smart. Every move she made was so sensual and fluid, and she knew exactly how to grab a room’s attention. Strolling around, in black Louboutins and a fur coat, clutching a long cigarette between her perfectly manicured fingers on her way to earning a ton of money doing something fishy and looking good doing it – the dream of every girlboss. She’s exactly what I want to be when I give in and decide to have a “mean” era because society says I have to.
9. A Streetcar Named Desire
Men were just sexier in the ’50s. Something about all that toxic masculinity and sexism really makes the grease-covered tee-and-blue-jeans combo—well, intoxicating. Marlon Brando, in all his masculine, Italian glory, truly looks like an Adonis as he smokes a cigarette and drinks a beer inside the house. I think it goes beyond attraction, it’s jealousy; I wish I looked this good drenched in sweat and without makeup, smoking a dart in the middle of a serious conversation.
8. Leon the Professional
A bit of a niche movie, I know. As a young acting gay man, I idolized Natlie Portman for starting her acting career so early. As soon as I saw this movie, I immediately connected with my 12-year-old emo self, who fantasized about being on the loose, walking and wandering from place to place with no real purpose or responsibility. Right after the opening scene, we see Natalie, who plays Matilda, in a black tee with a velvet choker and the perfect 90s bucket hat, smoking a cig on the stairs outside her apartment while her family is fighting indoors. She was fearless, strong, and smart beyond just learning to be alone and to fend for herself. In an ideal world, this is exactly where I would have ended up and looked like if my college escape plan had failed.
7. The Breakfast Club
Ah yes. The movie that set a precedent for what high school detention was supposed to look like: a bunch of really attractive kids having fun, flirting, and causing trouble. As soon as the professor turns his back, the five delinquents jump at the chance to have some fun with their stolen Saturday morning. One way to do this is to sit down, smoke, and have heartfelt conversations. Bonding with distant classmates alone in the library while sharing a cigarette feels like something that’s the epitome of the human experience. Plus, the scene where Judd Nelson lights Molly Wringwald’s cigarette for her while maintaining intense eye contact is the kind of romance that would leave even Shakespeare speechless.
Olivia Newton-John, thank you for teaching us that the best way to get revenge on your ex is to prove him wrong — and look smoking hot while doing it. I identified so much with Sandy’s journey throughout the film; I definitely found myself trusting and falling in love with men (and women!) who had a veil of charm hiding all their red flags. However, she esteemed herself enough to demand respect from him, and boy, did she ever. The way John Travolta watched her walk into carnival in a vinyl jumpsuit, smoke a cigarette is the way I want everyone to look at me all the time.
I’ve always secretly hoped that when I’m on a mission I look as important and authoritative as Martin Brody struts around Amityville in his uniform while smoking a cigarette. Something about cigarettes makes people wiser and more omnipotent, like they went to hell and walked away without a scratch. As Brody stands there, inhaling smoke and assessing the situation, the famous line is spoken: “We’re going to need a bigger boat.” I refuse to believe this scene would be just as famous if the cigarette wasn’t in it. It adds the perfect amount of edge and sex appeal to a serious situation. Hollywood chef’s kiss.
4. Natural Born Killers
Many professional critics will disagree, but I think this film should be classed as an artistic classic. The script is absolutely ridiculous, but all of the experimental cinematography and aesthetics of the film deserve more appreciation than they get. Mickey and Mallory Knox, the Romeos and Juliets of a dystopian version of the Midwest of the 90s, terrorize the desert with their red leather and their machine guns. Something about them listening to Jane’s Addiction while hurtling down the highway with a list of hits, smoking cigarettes is so appealing to that sick, twisted little piece of our bruised psyche that we don’t like to openly admit. Let me be the first: he exists, I’m tired of hiding him, and he finds danger and cigarettes appealing. I’m self-destructive, what can I say?
I so want to be seen as Winona Ryder as Veronica in this cult classic. She can run with the popular crowd, but stays true to herself. She’s hot, but she doesn’t spend a million years in the bathroom every morning pulling a face. She is strong and assertive, but not aggressive. She is the paradigm of those who are not “like other girls”. I wish I could leave a chaotic situation as casually and calmly as she did; even though her hair was messy, her clothes burned, and her skin covered in dirt, she had her cigarette, and that’s all that mattered.
2. Fear and loathing in Las Vegas
Sometimes when I feel like I’ve partied too hard, I remember that Hunter S. Thompson was actually going about his day to day business while being in a pharmacy full of drugs, and was incredibly famous doing it, and so I feel a little better about myself. The way Johnny Depp has a cigarette in his mouth the whole movie is the funniest thing ever. I don’t know if this movie really made me want to smoke cigarettes, but it definitely made me feel like, comparatively, smoking cigarettes really isn’t that bad, and it’s kind of normal! I really should stop taking advice from movies…but it’s my favorite movie, so it made the list.
I just want the person I marry to look like a greaser. Tough, adventurous, determined to defend their territory, greasers are known to hang out, get hot and smoke cigarettes. I first read the book when I was 13, and only recently found out that SE Hinton was 16 when she wrote it, which is why all the characters are so dramatic and selfish, and why I was so drawn to the writing and aesthetics of it. Seriously, if young Matt Dillon and Patrick Swazey with slicked back hair and denim jackets can’t convince you that smoking cigarettes is cool and sexy, I don’t know who can.