Smoke is a 1995 American independent film by Wayne Wang and Paul Auster. The original story was written by Paul Auster, who also wrote the screenplay. The film was produced by Greg Johnson, Peter Newman, Kenzo Horikoshi, and Hisami Kuroiwa. Among others, it features Harvey Keitel, William Hurt, Stockard Channing, Harold Perrineau Jr., and Forest Whitaker.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Wayne Wang|
|Produced by||Greg Johnson|
|Written by||Paul Auster|
|Music by||Rachel Portman|
|Edited by||Maysie Hoy|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Box office||$38 million|
The film follows the lives of multiple characters, all of whom are connected via their patronage of a small Brooklyn tobacconist store managed by Auggie (Harvey Keitel). Brooklyn Cigar Co. was located on the corner of 16th Street and Prospect Park West.
Auggie takes a photograph of the store from across the street at 8:30am every morning. A recently-widowed writer Paul Benjamin (William Hurt) sees his wife in one of the pictures, and breaks down. Later, he is saved from being run down by a truck by a young black man named Rashid (Harold Perrineau Jr.), whom he invites to stay in his apartment.
Rashid accepts, saying he was recognised by robbers and his life is in danger. He tracks his father (Forest Whitaker) down to a small-town gas station, which he sketches. His father, not recognising him, befriends him, and Rashid gives his name as Paul Benjamin.
Paul finds $5000 that Rashid has stashed in the apartment. Paul tracks Rashid down, and introduces himself to his father, who comments that Rashid and him share a name, and calls him out. Rashid admits that his real name is Thomas Jefferson Cole - which his father also has difficulty believing, as it is the name of his son.
Rashid is hired to work at the tobacconist, but ruins a shipment of cigars when the sink overflows. He gives Auggie the $5000 to keep his job.
The many story lines never really connect, except through Auggie.
- Giancarlo Esposito as OTB Man #1, Tommy Finelli
- José Zúñiga as OTB Man #2, Jerry
- Harvey Keitel as Augustus 'Auggie' Wren
- Jared Harris as Jimmy Rose
- William Hurt as Paul Benjamin
- Daniel Auster as Book Thief
- Harold Perrineau as Thomas 'Rashid' Cole (as Harold Perrineau Jr.)
- Deirdre O'Connell as Sue the Waitress
- Victor Argo as Vinnie
- Michelle Hurst as Aunt Em
- Forest Whitaker as Cyrus Cole
- Erica Gimpel as Doreen Cole
- Stockard Channing as Ruby McNutt
- Ashley Judd as Felicity
- Malik Yoba as The Creeper
- Mary B. Ward as April Lee
- Clarice Taylor as Grandma Ethel
It earned $8 million in the United States and $30 million internationally.
- Silver Bear (Wayne Wang) 45th Berlin International Film Festival, 1995
- Danish Film Critics Bodil Award for Best American Film, 1995
- German Film Award for Best Foreign Film, 1995
- MTV Movie Award for Best Sandwich in a Movie - Ham and Cheese Sandwich
- Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay (Paul Auster), 1995
- Stockard Channing - Best Supporting Actress - Screen Actors Guild
The film was followed by Blue in the Face, a sequel of sorts that continues following a few of the characters and introduces several new ones.
The character Augustus "Auggie" Wren (played by Harvey Keitel) is modelled after the real-life owner of Augie's Jazz Bar, which closed in 1998. When the establishment reopened in 1999, the new owners could not keep the former establishment's name. To honor its legacy, they named the new club after the 1995 film.
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