S'more Entertainment // 2007 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // May 7th, 2011
More doctors choose Camels than any other brand of cigarette.
Nobody ever accused advertising agencies of ethics. They exist to sell products, and do it very well, regardless of its impact on the world or public health. This has never been truer than in the cigarette campaigns, which could provide disinformation, distortions, and outright likes about the benefits of smoking, and all in around thirty seconds. Dark, maybe, but certainly genius.
Smokin': Classic Cigarette Commercials is exactly what the title implies, ninety minutes of cigarette ads from the '50s and '60s laid out one after another without accompaniment. That amounts to a massive number of ads representing all the major brands of the time: Camel, Marlboro, and Lucky Strike are here, while old favorites like Regent and Bel Air get some of the heaviest play. No doubt this is a niche DVD, but it has honest historical value and is a great window into the devious minds of advertisers.
There are some real choice bits here, with campaigns both famous and obscure, and all of it highly interesting. My favorites are from Regent and Bel Air, which were the same company, and included Regent coupons in their packs (four extra if you bought by the carton). With these, customers could buy any number of goods, from blenders to phonographs to, apparently, a living room set. The ads stress how much these coupons have done for your family and, without them, your children would be filthy and living in the squalor of your non-smoking design. Newport's are also quite good, though. They present a fantasy of the upscale life, smoking on the beach in a sundress with your wealthy and successful husband, servants bringing you drinks and lighting your Newports, and, oh, your hat almost blew off in the breeze. Isn't smoking just grand? Other campaigns include Marlboro's lessons on how to be a man (mostly, it involves killing something than taking a cigarette from their patented "flip top" box), a cigarette square dance, and a henpecked husband who turns his wife on by making a stand and demanding Luckys. All very good stuff.
From S'more, the disc for Smokin': Classic Cigarette Commercials is bare bones, with an image and sound that reflects the age of the material. The picture is dirty, with plenty of damage. The few color ads on the disc are by far the worst of the bunch. The mono sound is tinny, at best. There are no real extras, but there is an unadvertised thirty minutes of additional footage (some of it duplicated) that begins the moment the advertised feature's production credits end. I count this as part of the main feature.
Few DVDs have ever been produced that make me want to go light up more than Smokin'. Commercial after commercial inundating the viewer to smoke; even the Surgeon General would need a drag. After so many laid out one after another without commentary or break, it gets a little tired after a while, but aside from reviewing the disc, I don't see any reason to sit and watch this front to back. In snippets, it's good for a few laughs and has plenty of historical value.
Smoke 'em if ya got 'em.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: S'more Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated