Cigars are on one side of the movie screen almost as often as popcorn is on the other. And why not? They make a useful dramatic tool for both heroes and villains in countless great films. Here are some of the best cigar movie scenes of all time.
1. “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western masterpiece, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” features a number of cigar-smoking characters. The most famous of which is the “Man with no Name” played by Clint Eastwood. Many people who’ve seen “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” assume that Eastwood’s character must have a name. They think “I must have just missed it,” but on second viewing they notice that, in fact, he does not.
The decision not to give Eastwood’s iconic character a name was a conscious one by Director Leone. The director sought to make “the man with no name” represent a Western archetype: the stoic, laconic anti-hero. It was the perfect part for Eastwood. And, it was perfect in the movie’s famous scene where the three main characters (the “good” guy, the “bad” guy, and the “ugly” guy) stare each other down. While the others may appear nervous, Eastwood merely chews on his skinny cigar. Then, he stares down his opponents, until … Draw!
Eastwood also smokes a cigar in another of Leone’s famous Westerns, “A Few Dollars More.” While that, too, is a great movie, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” will forever remain our favorite and why we chose it as one of the best cigar movie scenes.
Al Pacino’s “Scarface” doesn’t really have a single, dramatic scene that accentuates his cigar-smoking. He is chewing on a very large (presumably Cuban) cigar throughout much of the film. Perhaps, though, the most poignant scene featuring a cigar is when Tony Montana (Pacino’s character) is sitting in a gigantic, opulent bubble bath, chewing on a cigar while arguing with his wife who, like him, is spiraling out of control.
Originally rated “X,” and written by a young Oliver Stone, “Scarface” had to battle its way into theaters. In the end, the controversy over the film helped it. Audiences lined up to hear Al Pacino deliver yet another one of his famous lines: “Say hello to my little friend!”
One, little-known fact about “Scarface” is that Robert Di Nero was first tapped for the role. It’s not quite clear what happened but, the deal fell through and the role went to Pacino. If anyone other than Pacino could have played Tony Montana, it would’ve been Di Nero. We can all be thankful that in the end, it was Pacino who played the notorious part.
The 1987 movie Predator was a box office smash starring an A-team of cigar-smoking actors. Among them, the aficionado himself: Arnold Schwarzenegger. There are few things cooler than Arnold chomping on a cigar while wielding a giant machine gun and hunting an invisible alien sporting dread-locks. Audiences agreed.
The cast of Predator is also noted for being jacked. Aside from Arnold, former NFL player, and Apollo Creed actor Carl Weathers were on set. He joked that he would wait for other actors to leave before using the on-set gym so he could act like his physique was “all-natural.”
J.K. Simmons played newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson in the “Spiderman” movies starring Tobey Maguire. While history has not been kind to the Maguire, “Spiderman,” remains unscathed. The cigar-munching actor played by J.K. Simmons was the perfect fast-talking editor. Simmons is the epitome of an old-fashion newsman who goes about his business with wit and aggression. Yet, in the end, he also proves he has the integrity to back it all up. He does all this without leaving the reach of one of his beloved cigars and a tumbler of whiskey.
5. “Wall Street”
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and not every character on our list can be the good guy. Gordon Gekko is the god of the ‘Yuppies’ who first emerged in the 1987 movie “Wall Street.” Gekko, the antagonist to Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox, delivered the famous line “Greed is good.” That phrase encapsulated an entire generation of wealth seekers and status climbers.
Gekko has taste, connections, women, money, and more. In other words, he has all the things that the young Bud Fox desires. The movie centers on why Gekko, the “villain,” wants more. Sheen’s character, Fox, can’t understand why Gekko continues to make sleazy, cut-throat decisions. After all, Gekko already has more money than he knows what to do with. Fox doesn’t understand Gekko, and Gekko certainly does not understand Fox. It’s a cat and mouse tale replete with shoulder pads, dollar signs, and those gigantic 1980s cellphones.
6. “American Psycho”
Our next cigar-loving villain is Christian Bale’s character, Patrick Bateman. Bateman, like Gekko, represented much of what some thought was wrong with the 1980s. Wealth-seeking was particularly potent on Wall Street and in other financial centers. The Bateman character exaggerates to insane extremes. Meanwhile, he goes on a murderous tear throughout the city, while smiling, laughing, and enjoying an expensive cigar.
7. “Independence Day”
Although “Independence Day” dishes up a friendly helping of cheese, there’s no denying the movie is enjoyable and contains one of the best cigar movie scenes. It also happens to feature one of the best cigar moments in cinematic history.
Will Smith’s character and Jeff Goldblum are on a mission to destroy an alien ship. Smith’s cigar-loving character turns to Goldblum and shares a victory cigar saying that the two of them will smoke together after they complete their mission and land safely back on Earth. During their mission, things take a turn for the worse (gasp). The two characters end up lighting their cigars in space! In the history of cigars, that was certainly a first.
Photo credit: TV Guide