As I revisited the excellent Disney production of Treasure Island for the first time in years, I was once again sold on Robert Newton's Long John Silver. What a defining performance! He established the screen pirate as we know him today.
As I was watching, though, I kept feeling an odd sense of deja vu: something about Newton's grunts and laughs and looks as Long John reminded me of someone else. I couldn't place if it was another character, or just an actor, or what. It didn't hit me until after the movie was over: Zatoichi! Shintaro Katsu's defining role featured the same gravelly voice, the same pleased grunts, and the same mischevious laughter. The more I thought about it, they even look the same! I tried to find some really good photos of the two actors to show you, but I couldn't quite find one of Newton that really nailed the physical similarities. Here are the best I could come up with:
Here's another of Newton that may help:
And another of Katsu:
Katsu is on the right in his picture (actually, that's his brother on the left, so they look alike for a reason). Note that both Newton and Katsu have the round face, full jowls, and sly smile.
So, for all (none) of you that have seen a Zatoichi movie, enjoy this connection!
**edit** J.Ol has alerted me to the clear resemblance between the pair and Sin City scribe Frank Miller: