Thursday, March 4, 2010

Commericial Review: CHARLES BRONSON'S MANDOM 1-3 (197?, Nobuhiko Obayashi)

Stars: 4.1 of 5.
Running Time: 30 seconds each.
Notable Cast or Crew: Charles Bronson.

Now, in the past I have devoted my attentions to Charles Bronson as well as Nobuhiko 'HAUSU' Obayashi (nicknamed 'OB' by Bronson), but this will mark the first time that I've been able to discuss these two titans in the context of genuine collaboration. The Mandom Corporation has, in various forms since 1927, distributed perfume, shaving accessories, hair products, deodorants, and the like. I can't get an exact date on these Bronson commercials, but my extensive knowledge of Bronson's evolving appearance leads me to estimate that all eight (yes, eight!) spots were filmed between 1970 and 1973. Of course, I could be wrong. Today, I'll be discussing the first three of these commercials. They may be some of the tamer entries, but they lay the groundwork for the inspired insanity that was to come. Without further ado–


Bronson sits before a campfire, deep in thought. He takes a long, deep, well-earned sip from his tin cowboy cup.

Before you know it, he's playing the Mandom theme on his harmonica- just as he played Ennio Morricone's 'Man with a Harmonica' theme for his role in the international sensation ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST a few years prior.

(Obayashi's love for all things Leone and Morricone finds concrete articulation in HAUSU.) The announcer inhales deeply, smelling Bronson in utter, manly satisfaction. We're then entreated to a lineup of Mandom's "Who's Who" line.

There you have it. Pretty straightforward, but every series has got to start somewhere.


We begin with a landscape and a zoom that could be straight out of CHATO'S LAND.

A cheerful drum break lets us know right off the bat that episode 2 is not aiming to fuck around. A voice sings: "All the world/ loves a lover/ All the girls/ and every Mannnn....domm." Bronson's on a horse– then he's leaping down a sand dune-

the world is truly his oyster, and it's all thanks to his liberal use of Mandom. Hey, Jill Ireland seems to like it just fine.

He dips his hat in the cool, thirst-quenching waters of an oasis, brings it to his lips as if to take a drink, then–

– it's a ruse!–

–He only wanted to bathe his face in this fragrant, virile liquid- which may or may not be a bottomless desert spring of... Mandom.

The announcer then unveils the new line of Mandom products and Bronson mimics his voice– "Mmmmm. Mandom."


Next, we have Chuck looking like he just strolled off the set of MR. MAJESTYK. There's a great hook to this one- Bronson fishing. Except Bronson doesn't fish with a pole, or bait, or a tacklebox, or even a fishing buddy. Those things just delay the sweet, impending union between meaty hand and juicy fish.

Yes, Bronson plucks fish from the sea like Poseidon himself. A bear of a man if there ever was one. Next, he's cookin' it.

With disdain, I might add.

When I think of all the things I'd like to smell like, seafood and campfires are always near the top of the list. I guess I'm the target audience here.

Suddenly, he's playing cards. Who's he playing cards against?

Four Mandom bottles which he has carefully arranged on his saddle. No joke. Apparently Bronson is winning, because he proceeds to humiliate the Mandom bottles though a series of unlikely, irreverent events.

He flings the Ace of Spades and it perfectly sandwiches itself between Mandom bottle and saddle.

He tosses another, which does a little curly-cue thing and lodges itself underneath the second bottle. (The third bottle magically has a card beneath it now, as well- I guess it got cut for time.)

Who knew that, A., Bronson had super-powers that appear to be culled from an old Three Stooges skit or, B., that Bronson would be so blasé, so modest with said super-powers? Some people whittle wood, some people do the crossword... Bronson telekinetically alters the trajectories of lightweight objects in three-dimensional space.

For the coup de grâce, he lobs one last card, which lands on its edge and commences twirling atop a Mandom bottle, accompanied by a loopy blast of Atari-era sci-fi sound effects.

Bronson then quickly gazes indifferently into the distance, as that is simply the most boring thing he has ever seen, and he can't abide looking at it for one second longer.

"Mmmmm.... Mandom." (Incidentally, this look into the distance is actually recycled footage from the end of the first installment.)

Stay tuned for installments 4-8, which become progressively and exponentially disconnected from reality...

-Sean Gill

EDIT: The series is followed-up HERE.


J.D. said...

"Stay tuned for installments 4-8, which become progressively and exponentially disconnected from reality..."

Is that humanly possible? For if that were to happen I think Bronson would cause a rip in the time-space continuum. Of course, he's Bronson so I guess he's not sweatin' it!

Sean Gill said...

I'm definitely not ruling out a rip in the time-space continuum... I hope to get to the rest of these by the end of the week.