What was James Mason doing making a Thunderbird TV commercial?

The distinguished actor was taking his place in the long failed history of TV wine commercials

James Mason was one of the greatest actors in a generation that included Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Deborah Kerr. So what was he doing making a Thunderbird commercial? Yes, that Thunderbird.

It’s all part of the long, failed history of TV wine commercials.

This 21-second black and white ad, apparently shot in 1964, exhibits every failing of TV wine advertising for as long as it has existed. It’s phony and pretentious; about the only thing missing is the hot chick. And it would be snotty even if it didn’t pitch Thunderbird, best known as the drink of choice for people who desperately need high octane at little cost. My favorite part? That the ad calls Thunderbird an aperitif. Which, of course, it isn’t, and is a concept that few consumers 50 years ago would have understood. But it sounds classy, so why not?

Mason, according to many reports, was often short of money, and did this for the cash. You can sort of tell that by the look on his face as he tastes the product.

So, no, petting the roo is not the worst TV commercial ever made. It’s just another in a long string of six decades of wine TV ad failures.

Video courtesy of AmberVon, via YouTube

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