Thomas Edison was the producer of an early advertising film called “We All Smoke” for what was known as Edison Studios. It was an American motion picture production company that was part of the Edison Manufacturing Company. One of the earliest projects Edison Studios created was “We All Smoke”. It was an advertising film and the first prototype commercial for the National Cigarette & Tobacco Company. It was filmed on August 5, 1897 by Thomas Edison Company and was only 28 seconds. The Library of Congress today holds a copy of the film, it was copied from a 35mm print at 26 frames per second in black and white. It is one of the earliest silent film clips on archive.
The commercial shows a group of four men sitting together, one is a hobo looking fellow, one is an Indian, one is a scholastic graduate and one looks like Uncle Sam. A lady dressed in Napoleonic garb magically appears out of a large cigarette box, she then struts over to the four men and begins showering them with loose cigarettes. As she walks away from the four men, the group unfurled a cloth banner reading “We All Smoke”. It was an odd film piece.
Even by modern standards the commercial is somewhat racy and controversial. Thomas Edison himself never directed or had much to do with the film projects his studio did over the years that Edison Studios was in production. Edison had interest in patents for technology in the earliest motion picture industry. Edison studios would eventually fold in an anti-trust suit, but before then the studio did produce a considerable number of early silent film pieces. Thomas Edison did not contribute much to the motion picture industry directly, but his interest in it was clear from examples like “We All Smoke’.