With Season 3 debuting this weekend it's a good a time to begin looking at the series' cinematic shout outs. It's also a sneaky way to work a great television series into The Film Experience. Even for you film buffs who've never seen an episode, I hope you'll enjoy these funny, telling or throwaway references to movie stars and cinema. Most episodes of "Mad Men at the Movies" won't be this wordy but I have to lay the groundwork. It's the pilot episode.
1.1 "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"Twelve minutes into the premiere, creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is exercising in his office when Salvatore the art director (Bryan Batt) enters to discuss an account.
Salvatore: Oh look at you, Gidget. Trying to fill out that bikini?I'm guessing this isn't the first time a gay man called another man "Gidget" in 1960, old school queens loving feminizing monikers as they do. The funny thing about the scene is that Salvatore hasn't even come out to himself and isn't in with the gays. He comes by it innately -- nature not nurture. The weird thing about the scene, in the larger context of Mad Men, is that Don Draper rolls with the girlish ribbing. He's a smidge more lighthearted in the earliest episodes. TV shows (even great ones) always take time to "settle".
Don Draper: Summer is coming.
Gidget, starring Sandra Dee, opened in April 1959 a year before this episode takes place. It was so popular that it spawned multiple sequels, imitators (see the beach party genre) and a mid60s TV series starring Sally Field. "Gidget" and "Sandra Dee" quickly turned into those sorts of names that also double as adjectives in the common vernacular. Consider Grease's "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" musical ribbing.
Salvatore's reference becomes funnier the more you think it over. Don is doing the exercise motion I personally remember girls doing in the late 70s (or was it early 80s?) while chanting "I must. I must. I must increase my bust. The bigger the better the tighter the sweater, the boys depend on us". I searched for the etymology of that rhyme and kept coming back to Judy Blume's "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret?" though surely the rhyme precedes that 1970 bestseller? Why else the reference to tight sweaters, which seem to place it in an earlier decade. Gidget herself is considered a flat chested (despite Sandra Dee filling out a swimsuit just fine) tomboy.
She acts sorta teenage, just in-between age
Looks about four foot three
Although she's just small fry, just about so-high
Gidget is the one for me
A regular tomboy but dressed for a prom
Boy, how cute can one girl be?
Although she's not king size, her finger is ring-size
Gidget is the one for me
As you may have gleaned from this post, I can't get enough of Mad Men. Even Gidget would have loved it it's so swell. "Honest to goodness it's the absolute ultimate!"
other Arts references in this episode:
<--- Cinema: A stripper at Pete's bachelor party does a weak Marilyn Monroe
Broadway: My Fair Lady (both verbally and musically "On the Street Where You Live")
Books: Bambi, A Life in the Woods
Magazines: Reader's Digest
Television: The Danny Thomas Show (also known as Make Room For Daddy)
To the Lipp Sisters at Basket of Kisses (a great Mad Men fansite) for providing a starter list.