Ten Influential Appearances of Alcohol in Movies
It’s summertime, a time when studios are normally filling theaters with the latest blockbusters and busts. While home theater systems can’t quite match the feeling of watching the newest releases on the big screen during the pandemic, there is one definite advantage to watching a movie from the comfort of your own home, the ability to pour yourself a stiff drink.
While most theaters ban booze from the premises (with a few awesome exceptions), we can’t help but notice that they can’t keep them out of the movies. From Bogie to Blutarsky, bottles of booze keep finding their way into some of our favorite flicks. We’ve compiled our list of ten influential appearances of alcohol brands in film.
Sit back, grab yourself a drink, and read on.
10. The Dude Drinks White Russians
In the cult classic The Big Lebowski the titular character spends most of the movie drinking a series of White Russians. Made with vodka, Kahlua and half & half, the Dude (or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) is rarely seen without one in his hand. In the scene above, Lebowski just returned from buying half & half when he is attacked in his apartment.
Check out the empty bottles of Kahlua on his dresser as they rush by.
9. Bad News Beam
While The Bad News Bears Coach Buttermaker is better known for swilling cheap beer (and sharing it with his young charges), he isn’t shy about dipping into the hard stuff. Pictured here, one of the Bears is showing a bottle of Jim Beam to both the coach and the camera. Considering the fact they are driving at the same time, it’s hard to imagine this scene could be copied today.
8. Suntory Time
In his dramatic comeback Lost in Translation, Bill Murray plays an aging American actor who goes to Japan to film a commercial for Suntory Whisky. The whole film served as an advertisement for Suntory, who enjoyed a sales upswing in the states after the movie was released.
7. On The Mark
We can’t help but think that getting name-dropped by one of the most beautiful actresses in the world has to help a brand. While her drinking is hardly glamorous in 2011’s Young Adult, Charlize Theron makes sure to order her bourbon by name, giving Maker’s Mark fantastic exposure. You can also see empty Maker’s Mark bottles in the background of scenes. While we should have shown pictures of the empties, we assumed our readers would prefer to see a picture of the lovely Charlize.
6. Jamaican For Beer
In the blockbuster hit The Firm, not only are Red Stripe Beer’s distinctively shaped bottles clearly visible on-screen, but Gene Hackman asks Tom Cruise to hand him one by name. This exposure led to a 50% increase in the brew’s sales the following year. Even better news for the brand was that they didn’t get tied in with this year’s television reboot.
5. Eastbound And Down
The entire plot of the rowdy hit Smokey and the Bandit was that Burt Reynolds’ Bandit had to get a truckload of contraband Coors Beer from Texas to Georgia. While there is plenty in the movie that seems implausible (physics, timing, Sally Field being a sex symbol), nothing seems more incredible than someone risking jail time over cases of Coors. It’s hard to believe, but at the time of the film’s release Coors was not only considered a good beer, but it was hard to find east of Texas.
4. No Wining
It’s rare that a product placement in a movie benefits an entire industry, but thanks to the award-winning Sideways the sales of Pinot Noir went up 16% the following year. More incredibly, the lead character’s disparagement of Merlot actually led to a 2% drop in Merlot sales.
3. That’s A Lot Of Gin
If anyone tells you that product placement is a new development you can point them to 1951’s The African Queen starring Hollywood royalty Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Bogie’s character Charlie Allnut is a gin swilling drunk who spends the first part of the movie with a bottle in hand. Gordon’s Gin saw an opportunity and made sure it was a bottle of their product.
2. They Took The Bar
In a scene from Animal House — immortalized on dorm walls everywhere — John Belushi upends a distinctive bottle of Jack Daniel’s and finishes it in one massive swig. This feat was so impressive that the poster above was purchased by incoming freshman for a generation.
1. Smirnoff, Shaken Not Stirred
Starting with Dr. No and continuing throughout the series, James Bond has preferred Smirnoff for his famed vodka martinis. The legendary Lothario may have strayed a time or two to other brands, and even gin on occasion, but he always comes back to his roots. Smirnoff might just be his most reliable costar.