It's inevitable. Turn on most giallo films and you're bound to see that familiar green bottle with the yellow label. It can only be one thing -- J&B Scotch Whisky. There's a J&B delivery man in Your Vice is a Locked Room and only I Have the Key; the liquor is served poolside in Black Belly of the Tarantula; Perversion Story features some pervy product placement; and the list goes on and on.

The scotch blended whisky has a long history, having been originally founded in 1749 in London. This was the drink of high society, which is amusing considering its cult film associations today. The company was originally called Johnson & Justerini until it was bought by Alfred Brooks and renamed Justerini & Brooks in 1910. In the 60's, J&B was aimed at the export market mainly in Europe, America and Korea. It even won six Queen's Awards for export, which is the highest honor for British businesses.
In the late 60's and early 70's, giallo cinema was just starting to develop its distinctive Italian style. Several themes became earmarks of the genre, including associations with exoticism and alienation by way of portraying the films' protagonists as foreigners or shipping characters off to locations outside of Italy as is the case in 1972's Death in Haiti (also known as Tropic of Cancer). During this time, it wasn't unusual to see airline advertisements bookending the films and in turn promotions featuring the drink of choice -- J&B (thanks to Kinoeye for clarification on this). J&B was marketed to people of sophistication and style, but it also came to embody a certain kind of masculine swagger when consumed by men in these films. The whisky became a sort of foil to whoever shared a scene with it, creating a visual shorthand that allowed the audience to know more about who was doing the drinking. From hard-nosed cops to bored countesses, character development was often as simple as placing a bottle in the scene and letting the booze do the talking.

The gang at Atrocity Nights has compiled a list of gialli featuring J&B (in alphabetical order no less!). Fans of other genres will also enjoy rummaging through their database, as there are lists for J&B appearances in Sci-Fi, Horror films, and more. Each list has pictures from scenes in the movies, along with commentary. <advertising jingle> Now, pour yourself a shot, drink one for me and remember to spot the J&B in the next giallo you see. </I can't believe I rhymed without trying>.
categories Features, Horror