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Film: I used to be interesting

By Henry P. Raleigh
ART TIMES online August 2013

It used to be interesting

There was a time in movies when nearly all the screen characters smoked. This regrettably inspired generations of youths to smoke.  And it was not that the ill effects of this were unknown back then.  Cigarettes weren’t called “coffin nails” for no reason and had not mothers been unceasingly warning that the habit would surely “stunt your growth?”  Oh, I confess I was once among those generations. I fell into the reeking abyss, as did my puffing coevals out of a desire to be as “interesting” as those smoke shrouded figures we admired in film.  It was clear that a cigarette dangling carelessly from the corner of your mouth made you a somebody to deal with, someone of maturity and experience, possibly dangerous — in all, someone “interesting.”  Now I am not alone in observing that once the smokers were driven from movies the quality of film slumped, the actors healthier yet less “interesting”. Can you really imagine Humphrey Bogart unaccompanied by a fuming gasper?  Or Robert Mitchum? Or Bette Davis?  Or — you know them, all right.  Can you ever recall Tom Cruise or Matt Damon dragging on a butt or even a cubed? No sir, they’d be spanked and sent to bed if their moms caught them.  You see what I mean about “interesting?”  I was once “interesting” a long time ago.  I’m not any more.

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