1. Now, Voyager (1942)
"Shall we just have a cigarette on it?" Paul Henreid asks, right after Bette Davis tells him they can never be lovers again, lest she lose the chance to help raise his child. So Davis holds her engraved cigarette box out to him, and in a typical gesture of consideration and intimacy, Henreid puts two smokes in his mouth, lights both, and passes one over to Davis. As their smoke curls together and Max Steiner's impossibly dreamy score swells, Davis and Henreid reach a tentative accord that she refuses to press. "Don't let's ask for the moon," she insists. "We have the stars."
2. To Have And Have Not (1944)
In the days of the Production Code, Hollywood filmmakers snuck sex into every look, gesture, and action. In Howard Hawks' To Have And Have Not, 20-year-old Lauren Bacall made her screen debut by wandering into Humphrey Bogart's room and asking for a light, in a moment charged with erotic energy. For Bogie and Bacall, a cigarette was never just a cigarette, and the pair would flirt while inhaling cancer-causing agents in subsequent films like The Big Sleep and Key Largo. But To Have And Have Not marked the genesis of the pair's smoky chemistry.
3. The Graduate (1967)
Adding one more wincing note to a calamitously awkward hotel-room tryst, aimless college graduate Dustin Hoffman leans in to kiss old family friend Anne Bancroft on the lips, but finds her oddly unresponsive. When he pulls back, she blows a plume of smoke straight into his face. He forgot to let her exhale. Like a lot of the subtle comic business enlivening The Graduate's bone-dry satire, the smoking routine was honed by director Mike Nichols with his old improv partner Elaine May, during a career dedicated to choreographing the ballet of modern miscommunication.
4. Basic Instinct (1992)
Sharon Stone completes the flummoxing of her police interrogators by uncrossing her legs and flashing her star-maker, but she really has them on the hook from the beginning, when she lights up a cigarette and shrugs off Wayne Knight's warning that it's a non-smoking building. "What are you gonna do?" Stone smirks. "Charge me with smoking?"
5. All The President's Men (1976)
Screenwriter William Goldman and director Alan J. Pakula struggled with how to represent the pivotal character in Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's Watergate reportage: the unnamed source known only as "Deep Throat." The filmmakers opted to dramatize one of Woodward's parking-garage meetings with Deep Throat, played in the movie by Hal Holbrook, who spends as much time in the movie puffing away at a cigarette as delivering cryptic instructions like "Follow the money." And though Holbrook's well-shaded face remains recognizable throughout, the mystique of Deep Throat is primarily conveyed through the tiny glowing ember as he inhales.
6. Pinocchio (1940)
Granted yet another of his infinite store of reprieves by The Blue Fairy, the puppet-who-would-be-real makes a literal ass of himself, by learning how to smoke and play pool from the local toughs. But the smoking is the key to his downfall. "You smoke like my grandma," a hoodlum needles. "C'mon… take a big drag!" So Pinocchio does, and his face turns red, then green, before he gets so dizzy that he can't focus on the 8-ball. Then he turns into a donkey. Since it isn't exactly "glamorizing smoking," surely this would get a pass from the MPAA?
7. Grease (1978)
Olivia Newton-John makes a furtive stab at drinking and smoking during her first slumber party with the Pink Ladies, who mock her inability to ingest anything illicit without throwing up. But when she appears at the end of Grease, tarted up and ready to sing "You're The One That I Want" to John Travolta, she's puffing almost confidently, completing her transformation into the movie's glitzy, iconic version of "bad." Kissing her wouldn't be like licking an ashtray; it'd be like chewing on warm plastic.
8. True Romance
Rather than give up his son's location, Dennis Hopper taunts mob boss Christopher Walken with a long monologue about the African origins of the Sicilian bloodline, while on the soundtrack, "The Flower Duet" from Léo Delibes' opera Lakmé gradually rises. Hopper knows he's a dead man, and intends to screw with Walken before he gets plugged. And we know he's a dead man too, from the moment he looks up at his tormentor and meekly asks, "Could I have one of those Chesterfields now?" He dies in a cloud of well-lit smoke, prompting Walken to grumble, "I haven't killed anybody since 1984."
9. Dead Again (1991)
This Kenneth Branagh-directed attempt at a Hitchcockian psychological thriller is a convoluted mess of time-twisting, metaphysical babble, noirish double-crosses, and melodramatic performances. Ultimately, it's all pretty forgettable stuff save for one haunting scene featuring Andy Garcia, who plays newspaper reporter Gray Baker. Garcia's character straddles two eras: When we first meet him, he's a dapper chain-smoker, a Bogart-like man of his time. Flash-forward 50 years, and Baker is in a rest home, crippled by cancer of the larynx. A nurse admonishes Branagh before allowing him into the room for a visit, saying, "Whatever you do, don't let him smoke." Naturally, Garcia—underneath ridiculous layers of latex, and speaking through a voice box—immediately demands a cigarette. Branagh reluctantly obliges, then looks on in horror as Garcia takes a satisfied drag—through his tracheotomy hole. Then he passes the pack back to Branagh, who recoils, saying, "I just quit." You and half the audience.
10. Thank You For Smoking (2005)
One reason Jason Reitman's adaptation of Christopher Buckley's tobacco-lobby satire Thank You For Smoking keeps up such a sleek pace is that it shows no actual smoking. That tactic becomes a little more conspicuous as lobbyist Aaron Eckhart meets with shady mogul Rob Lowe to plot the resurgence of cigarettes in movies—before heading out of town to pay off Sam Elliott's ex-Marlboro Man, who's dying of cancer. Reitman and Buckley revel in this kind of treachery, and never shy away from the characters' amorality. Nonetheless, the film's ultimate satirical kick comes when an audience notices what they've decided not to show.