“Cigarette Life!” A deathless line from “Tomato Is Another Day.”
I offer for your bewilderment Tomato Is Another Day (1930), seven of the weirdest minutes ever committed to film. It was never widely shown (for obvious reasons) and was only rediscovered in the wonderful age of cable, DVDs and YouTube. And no one knows what the hell to make of it.
“What time did you say your husband would be back?”
Is it a parody of the earliest talkies? I’ve seen nearly every early talkie, and this does not even approach the stagiest of them. A parody of late-1920s avant-garde theater? Well, Strange Interlude had opened in 1928, so maybe . . . Lots of (virtual online) ink has been spilled on this little gem, also sometimes called Tomatoes Another Day. “Image and sound are inflexibly congruent, forbidding both artist and spectator the freedom of intellectual dissonance and dissent,” writes one film theorist, who I picture wearing a monocle and one of those Brooklyn soul patches.
Another writer opines that Tomato Is Another Day “seems to suggest that freedom is both an attainment and a rejection, for freedom is found when we at once safeguard the autonomous spaces of the silent imagination and . . .” Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t even type that with a straight face.
Now I have to go lie down for a few minutes and have some ice cream.
SFX: Crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch, and so forth.
OK, I’m back.
Me, I think Tomato Is Another Day is just pure silliness. I think the cast and crew got together and decided to have some fun, like a Carol Burnett or Saturday Night Live sketch. I particularly like the “I give you my awl” line, being a huge fan of bad puns. So settle back and enjoy. Or don’t:
And remember: “Cigarette life!”