Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Christmas Album: Ronnie

Well, well, if it isn't the Ghost of Christmas Past on Day Thirteen of our Holiday tour! It has come wrapped in the form of vices that were once merely regarded as a mildly interesting form of normal social intercourse. And who should we find hawking our nation's former favorite habit, but Ronald Reagan himself, passing out the smokes to all and sundry from his desk. I'd say it was around 1952 from the small print mentioning a forgotten but pleasant adventure flick called Hong Kong (1952) aka Bombs Over China and from the looks of that baggy brown suit the future pres is wearing, (a color and type that he persisted in wearing forever, it seems). Ah, there's nothing quite like making the world a bit safer for non-Communist smokers. Of course, nowadays, capitalist countries are among the leaders in making the wares of such manufacturers socially anathema, believing that playing nanny over the citizenry might avert humanity's tendencies toward self-destructive behavior.

Things seemed simpler back in Reagan's day, when doctors even made ads endorsing certain brands of cigarettes, claiming that it has "no unpleasant after-taste", and "won't cut your wind" when cheerleading for the big tobacco companies. What would old movies be without cigarettes? Since the production code made more explicit expressions of passion impossible, and since big tobacco companies practiced product placement of their goods by readily supplying the studios with them, sharing a smoke on and off screen certainly gave actors "something to do with their hands" and, oh, that curling smoke certainly photographed beautifully in black and white.


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