This commercial that Charles Bronson did for a Japanese grooming product called Mandom is so hypnotic. Honest to God, I watched it several times. It begins with Bronson alone in a piano bar, one where he’s a regular (based on the doorman’s reaction). He then drives home and, still alone, grabs a pipe and tosses his shirt off. He spreads copious amounts of Mandom on his fine physique while Country singer Jerry Wallace croons the product’s jingle. The scent of Mandom makes Bronson imagine himself brandishing a shotgun and riding a horse through a Western landscape. Who was the target audience for this, secretly gay Japanese businessmen? The Mandom campaign was a big success (oh yeah, there are more Bronson commercials on YouTube), leading director Nobuhiko Ohbayashi towards his loopy/fantastic “girls in a haunted house” feature film House.
Doing commercials in Japan has long been a dirty little secret for celebrities who want to cash in without spoiling their image in the West — pre-Internet, at least. I believe the scenes with Bill Murray struggling through a liquor commercial shoot in Lost In Translation slammed the lid shut on that stuff, but then I could be wrong. Are today’s celebs still shilling Japanese crap? Mull it over while watching circa 1990 Alyssa Milano hawking a chocolate drink while dancing to one of her Debbie Gibson-like tunes: