|Description||It may be on the way out, but the thrill lives on. Frances Wilson salutes cinema's nicotine-stained history and scoffs at recent moves to clean up the screen 'Anybody got a match?' it is one of those moments which, after next Sunday, we will rarely have again. Lauren Bacall leaning in the doorway of the room, cigarette hanging from her mouth, voice full of smoke, snake-eyes fixed on the Bassett-hound features of Humphrey Bogart. He has never seen her before in his life and nor have we, because this is Bacall's Carton Of Newports first scene in her first film. He looks her up and down, adjusts the top of his trousers, and chucks over his box, which she catches in her hand; a Venus fly trap snapping its prey. She strikes; the flame blazes like a Bunsen burner, she inhales and tosses the dead match over her shoulder. 'Thanks,' she murmurs, looking sidelong, and disappears. A great love affair has begun. Long, slim, cool and immaculate, the cigarette that dominates the scene is, like Bacall herself, elegance personified and very, very bad for you. We are in the presence of a 20th-century icon. To Have and Have Not is famous for its match-making: Bogie and Betty met on set and the on-screen sizzling is no act, but there is more to the magic of the movie than the mutual addiction of its stars. Without that cigarette to draw the two together - and they will become the greatest smoking couple of cinema - Bacall's appearance in Bogart's room would have minimal impact: it is not as a man and woman that 'Slim' and 'Steve' meet but as two smokers; her request for a match is thrown out like a gauntlet in an erotic challenge. The point is, as James Walton puts it in The Faber Book of Smoking, that smokers differ from non-smokers in that they 'get to give and receive gifts all the time'. Christmas has come early for Bogart and Bacall: imagine the result had she popped in for a nicotine patch. When they were thought to be harmless, cigarettes took on the supporting roles, if not the lead parts, of numerous films. Since it became known they were dangerous, they have played the villains. Fifty years after Bacall first lit up the screen, Sharon Stone sits in front of five detectives. Her immaculate white dress Newport 100s cigarettes doesn't quite cover her thighs and she has forgotten to put on her underwear. She removes from its case a long, slim cigarette and slips it between her lips. 'There's no smoking in this building, Miss Tremell,' she is told. One of her coltish legs is flung loosely over the other. 'What are you gonna do?' She looks her interrogator in the eye and flicks her lighter. 'Charge me with smoking?'|
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