Cigars have gone beyond something enthusiasts enjoy in their downtime to become a cultural phenomenon. There is no place this is exemplified better than on the big screen. Cigars have been appearing on-screen in films across the United States since the dawn of Hollywood in the early 1900s.
Over the decades, the use of cigars as signature props for character development, especially in lead roles, only fueled their popularity further.
Today highlight some of the famous films that featured cigars. We will also highlight some of the reasons cigars feature so frequently in the film industry.
Cigars In Movies
The Dollars Trilogy
You wouldn't be able to search for stills from Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns without coming across the iconic image of him with a cigar clamped between his teeth. Portrayed as the silent, deadly type, Eastwood's Man with No Name probably did more to popularise cigar smoking than any other screen hero.
A gunslinger armed with a six-shooter, the character can be seen smoking a cheroot multiple times across the three films, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966).
One of the most iconic scenes in the trilogy is the 'Mexican Standoff' in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Eastwood's character spends the duration of this tense scene with a cigar resting in his mouth. Surprisingly, he doesn't drop it as he shoots the ruthless mercenary named Angel Eyes.
Larger-than-life, confident, and ready to kick ass, who doesn't love Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the opening scene of the Predator (1987) movie, Arnold is seen enjoying a cigar before descending from the military helicopter.
A well-known cigar aficionado, Arnold insisted on using genuine cigars instead of fake ones made with herbs. During the film's shooting, he would occasionally smoke cigars slightly off-camera to add a smoke-filled mystery to the jungle atmosphere.
In Scarface (1983), Al Pacino portrays the infamous Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who arrives in Miami and rises to a powerful drug king. The iconic film was based on the American crime novel Scarface written by Armitage Trail in 1929. The book itself was inspired by real-life gangster Al Capone, widely known by his nickname "Scarface."
In the film, Al Pacino's character puffs luxurious Cuban cigars not once or twice but multiple times throughout the film. The mobster had his hands on some of the best Cuban cigars, like Montecristo, Ramon Allones, or Partagas Cigars. There's even a fan theory that Tony's smokes were the rare and sought-after Cohibas.
The Wolverine (2013)
Hugh Jackman's iconic performance as the Wolverine turned this comic book character into one of the biggest and most popular franchises.
Known for his retracting claws and manly sideburns, the character throughout the entire X-Men series is also portrayed as a cigar lover.
In one incredible cigar scene, Wolverine puts a cigar in his mouth right before slashing a gas tank and blowing up the bad guys with a fireball. As the flames subside and Wolverine steps out, it appears that the explosion has lit the cigar for him!
Independence Day (1996)
In Independence Day, Will Smith's character Captain Hiller is more than ready to pull out and light up a cigar at moments of celebration.
One of the best cigar scenes in the film comes when Hiller takes down an alien craft and marks the victory with a Bering Imperial cigar. At the end of the film, Hiller and David each smoke a cigar to celebrate their impending victory.
Die Another Day (2002)
Die Another Day features a scene where James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) visits a Cuban cigar factory to track down a sleeper agent stationed there. Arriving at the factory, he asks for "Delectados," which was not a type of cigar at the time of the film but a code word for the sleeper agent.
Shortly after the film was released, many cigar companies began to produce Delectado cigars (the cigar of James Bond!)
In the movie, Bond can also be seen smoking a crisp Romeo Y Julieta Churchill cigar.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Directed by Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down is a 2001 war film that features one of the most famous cigar lines in movie history.
Mr. Atto is smoking a cigar en route in his car when the U.S. Troops come to pick him up to have a meeting with General Garrison. When the General walks into the room, he offers to give the General a Cuban Belicoso Finos cigar. But Garrison turns it down, saying, "No, thanks. I got one." Mr. Atto laughs and replies, "Miami, my friend, is not Cuba."
Partly based on the graphic novel of the same name, Hellboy is about a demon who was summoned by the Nazis but raised to be a defender of good after being saved by the Allies.
Hellboy is often seen with a short, stout cigar during the movie. In one of the scenes, Hellboy is taught how to light a cigar properly.
The A-Team (2010)
Liam Neeson played Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith in the 2010 film based on the 1980s television series of the same name. Hannibal often smokes Cuban cigars to celebrate a plan coming together.
During one interview, Liam recalled a moment during rehearsals when he lit a cigar and thought, "Whoops. I totally get cigars.'" In the past, he had smoked cigarettes but never gotten on the cigar bandwagon until the A-team movie.
No list of famous cigar smokers would be complete without Tony Soprano! The ruthless crime boss, played by James Gandolfini, loved smoking premium Churchill cigars.
According to the show's creator, David Chase, cigars weren't accidental. They were an intended prop as cigar-smoking invokes power and a level of authority. Tony Sopranos's cigar moments became so popular that CAO cigars manufactured a limited-edition line of full-bodied smokes dedicated to the show.
Did you know that the late Gandolfini was also a real-life cigar aficionado? Playing a cigar-loving mafia boss must have come naturally to him.
Why Cigars Are So Popular in Films
Cigars in movies are more than just a prop. They have dominated the scenes of movies for decades, adding that little bit of drama or sophistication to any film that includes them. Rightly so because:
- Cigars have been the ultimate symbol of power and authority for decades. For instance, Cohiba cigars were for years only smoked by Fidel Castro and the high-level diplomats he gifted them to. As a result, they were used to portray the sense of the power yielded by mobster characters in classic Mafia films like Scarface and The Untouchable.
- There are many famous cigar smokers, and some of them are so iconic there are exclusive cigar brands named after them! For instance, the inspiration behind the classic Romeo y Julieta Churchills Cuban Cigar is Winston Churchill. This cigar made an appearance in movies, such as Die Another Day.
- Cigars, specifically Cuban cigars, have a luxury tag stamped on them, making them the penultimate symbol of success in the corporate world. As portrayed in movies like Wall Street, cigars can be found easily in board rooms as they can in a Mafia boss's hideout.