Synopsis by Mark Deming
Since everyone knows that smoking isn't good for you, why do so many people smoke? That's one of the questions posed in this documentary that looks at the role of the cigarette in our culture and how tobacco has become so important in the American mindset. Footage of 1994 congressional hearings, in which tobacco industry representatives attempt to defend their actions and their product, are interspersed with clips from vintage Hollywood films, in which the likes of John Wayne, Bette Davis, and Burt Lancaster enjoy a smoke with no small enthusiasm, and television commercials from the 1950s and 1960s, in which the "smooth," "clean," "fresh" tastes of various cigarettes are praised. The film also includes excerpts from a "smoking porn" video (in which sexy but clothed women smoke and talk about how much cigarettes turn them on) and less amusing footage of nicotine experiments performed on laboratory animals. The Last Cigarette was compiled and directed by Kevin Rafferty and Frank Keraudren; Rafferty previously helped assemble the A-bomb compilation documentary, The Atomic Cafe.