Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Betty Draper Loves White Fang

I've been on a Mad Men bender. Nine episodes in the past three days. This decision was spurred on by a hugely thoughtful gift from a friend (1st and 2nd season) and the abundant EMMY nominations last week. Just as I began to watch Season 1 in marathon form -- I'd only seen some of it not being a regular until season 2 -- the publicity blitz for Season 3 (coming in August) started hitting.


This Interview interview with January Jones (aka "Betty Draper") is so cute.

Who knew that that Ethan Hawke wolfdog movie White Fang (1991) was that inspiring to little children? It made little January want to be an actor. Jones is so sneaky/fantastic as Betty Draper (she's almost too good in the role for you to notice how much she's doing... initially) that I must now thank the makers of White Fang for contributing to the wonder that is Mad Men.

Jones has been toiling around in the movies since 1999 in everything from Bandits and American Wedding through Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada but Betty Draper is the role that's made her career. A charming reveal in that short video: it actually sounds like she read the Jacqueline Susann novel Once is Not Enough that her parents got her name from.

Pointless Cinematic Trivia Alert! That trashy bestseller was technically the last book Susann ever finished (Film critic Rex Reed, her friend, finished her next book Dolores when she took ill). Once... became a movie in 1975 a few years before January Jones was born. Deborah Raffin played "January" in the film but it was Brenda Vaccaro who nabbed the attention and a weird Oscar nomination to go with it (more on that odd 1975 supporting actress Oscar race). Three of Susann's six books were adapted into movies (the most famous being Valley of the Dolls) and she even got her own biopic Isn't She Great? starring Bette Midler.

Deborah as "January" / January as "Betty"

Where was I?

Oh yes, Mad Men. Time to watch the 10th episode. I'm tempted to do a blog series on all the movie references in Mad Men. But then I'm always tempted to do massive projects and I'm rarely afforded the time. Your feelings on Mad Men or Jacqueline Sussan or White Fang are more than welcome in the comments. Help me feel less alone in the universe tonight.

18 comments:

Daniel Armour said...

I watched a good chunk of one episode and liked it. I don't know why I haven't watched it again but I just haven't. For some reason, though, I've never gotten the big deal about cable television channels (The HBOs, The Showtimes, etc). Nothing against them but nothing on those networks has ever truly drawn me in (except Extras). I guess that's because the main shows I watch are on network T.V.

Fruitburger said...

I was on board from day one because I was a Jon Hamm fan and knew he had a new series. His looks drew me in but his talent made me stay LOL Admittedly I didn't like the first episode; I thought it was too slow. I stuck with it and realized even though my head was telling me I didn't like it, I couldn't stop watching. That turned into love. It's the only hour-long drama I watch besides Castle

What's even better is my childhood crush, David Selby, from Dark Shadows will be doing a guest appearance this upcoming season. TV doesn't get any better than that.

Drew said...

I've never seen it and I desperately want to, but so far still haven't been bothered shelling out the cash for the DVD set.

Anonymous said...

I have watched a few episodes, but missed some (including the first ones) so I stopped. I liked it, though.

Anyway, don't you think the name January Jones sounds really Bond Girl-ish?

Encore Entertainment said...

Yes indeedy that Once Is Not Enough nomination for Brenda V. was interesting, at best in her role. I don't know why Lee Grant of all the Shampoo ladies was the one who got noticed. But I've always been a Julie Christie kinda guy. Moving on, I do think the first season of Mad Men is VERY superior to the first. It's still good though, it just seems to have lost that uuumph in Season 2. Maybe it's just me. Speaking of Ethan Hawke. Where the hell is he? Probably still heartbroken over Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, and Hollywood's lack of interest in wonderful films. Then again, if I broke up with Uma and she managed to get even hotter... Oh well...he'll always have Gattaca...

Henry said...

Love, love, love Mad Men. I thought it was a little slow at first, but it was so layered and so perfect in catching how people in the 60's operated that I loved it.

kate said...

January Jones is a really Bond Girl name. I love Mad Men and I love her on it.

Ben said...

I started watching Mad Men earlier this year and pretty much raced through both seasons in a couple of weeks. I just find it endlessly fascinating and there's always stuff to pick out from rewatching. Even individual scenes leave me with my jaw on the floor. Chauncey, Betty shaking out the picnic blanket and leaving the rubbish on the floor...so full of great moments that refuse to leave my mind. It's almost completely character-driven as well. Everything feels unrushed and unforced, which is great. Of the three women, Betty is my favourite. January Jones does such a great job in expressing Betty's complex interior life.

Wayne B. said...

Have never seen one minute of "Mad Men." I'm a little bit frightened that if I see even ten minutes of one episode that I'll become undeniably hooked and HAVE TO WATCH every single episode. And since I'm already a killer fan of "True Blood," that's too much of a committment on my part. :)

Guy said...

God she is so ridiculously beautiful. My crush on her grows by the day.

As it happens, my parents took me to see "White Fang" when I was seven years old, and I wept buckets too. But dog (or in this case, wolf) movies do that to me.

NATHANIEL R said...

Guy... i've never seen it. Maybe if it had been about a wolfcat.

encore ethan's career is pretty interesting in that he's never really been a huge star but if you look back over it there's quite a bit of interesting stuff or films that people really responded to in some way.

Henry and fruitburger in terms of the 'slow' reaction. I'm glad you both got over that quickly. The first time i tuned in (somewhere in the middle of the first season) i thought the pacing was a bit odd too. But it was just that i needed to get to know the characters a little bit.

I heard some critic (who didn't like the show) describing the performances as something like covered in a blanket of anesthesia... and I just scratched my head. It's not loud or obvious very often but i don't think it's themes or performances are all that muted and inaccessible. In fact once you're used to how long it will let some scenes play (I generally think filmmakers forget how powerful scenes and characterizations can be if you don't rush through them and you let the talented actors breathe) there's just so much that's juicy and individualistic that's just slightly buried by the traditional role playing most of the characters are engaged in.

JS said...

You'll be pissed once you get to season 2 and see the beautiful work January does. You'll be pissed because The Emmy's just ignored one of the best actress of the year. "A Night To Remember" and "The Inheritance" were expertly acted by Jones.

Fruitburger said...

@Drew You can rent the show through Netflix or Blockbsuter.com The brick and mortar stores have it too.

Arkaan said...

I bought the first season without having seen it because of the raves. Nine episodes in, and I'm underwhelmed. I'm fascinated by the epic response from critics and fans because based on what I saw, I was non-plussed. The pacing, the topics.... I feel about Mad Men the way Nathaniel feels about The Sopranos.

BW said...

Nate, I like what you say about Jones on Mad Men. She's so natural and there's so much going on under the surface that people don't realize how great of an actress she really is. Her Emmy snub is glaring. Elisabeth Moss is equally deserving of a nom, so this is no bash to her - although she should be in supporting. I guess people can relate to Peggy more. I hope Jones gets her due by the end of the series.

Anonymous said...

She has always been a really good actress. It's interesting because she seems very grounded from all the interviews I have seen with her. She has been pretty open about the state of female roles in hollywood. I think her goal is to be a character actress, like Edie Falco. Also check out Sweedish Auto. A great little overlooked film with her and Lukas Haas.

Deborah said...

http://www.lippsisters.com/2009/07/24/the-movie-references/

For you, dear.

Deborah said...

Drew, you can buy episodes one at a time from iTunes, if that's more in your budget.

Anon, OMG, January Jones as a Bond Girl! My life just ate its own tail.