The Celluloid Pantry: Suspicious Scotch and Laura (1944)

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"She never bought cheap stuff like that—not a lady like Miss Hunt."

In Laura (1944), hardboiled police detective Lt. Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) falls in love with a murdered woman through her portrait, her perfume, her diary—and her taste in scotch.

There are no clues to speak of—no smoking gun, no fingerprints. But then something in the late Laura Hunt's (Gene Tierney) liquor cabinet catches the lieutenant's eye. A bottle of Black Pony scotch. From that point on, the mystery takes off at a gallop. He calls the liquor store to confirm. No, Laura never bought that cheap brand, not her. Someone else—known for questionable taste—must have visited Laura's apartment that fateful night. Mulling it all over in Laura's living room, beneath her portrait, Lt. McPherson pours himself a stiff drink. But this time it isn't Black Pony—it's some of the good stuff.

This was all long before the days of widespread product placement in movies, and Black Pony was not a real brand—not yet. But the film still created a demand for this fictional product (even if it was the suspicious cheap stuff). Cashing in on the popularity of Laura, an enterprising bottler soon began marketing Black Pony scotch.

- Nora

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The Celluloid Pantry

Nora Maynard is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her recent work has appeared in Salon, Drunken Boat, and The Millions. She recently completed her ninth marathon and her first novel, Burnt Hill Road. Nora wrote for The Kitchn from 2006 to 2011.