Thanks to the epic power of the internet, we all now know about the appearances Hollywood stars make in Japanese ads. No matter what they're shilling for, Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, George Clooney and dozens of others can earn piles of obscenely easy money by simply lending their mugs to an advertising campaign or 12. This is not, however, a new phenomenon. For example, way back in the dark ages of 1980, Francis Ford Coppola joined Akira Kurosawa (whose Kagemusha he was then producing) in spots for Suntory whiskey, a product Kurosawa had been endorsing for at least a decade.
Happily, a bunch of the spots -- both with and without Coppola, and directed by Kurosawa himself -- have been uploaded to YouTube for our viewing pleasure. My favorites are actually the latter group, particularly the first one in which only Kurosawa appears. For most of the 15-second-ish spot, it appears we're watching a documentary about the making of Kagemusha. And then, suddenly, a bottle of whiskey appears, and a very serious voice-over intones "Suntory Reserve." Alrighty then. If nothing else, I suppose it's nice to know that totally illogical alcohol ads are nothing new. (And yes, Heineken-Pussycat Dolls ad, I'm looking at you.)