1.3 "Marriage of Figaro"
Joan Holloway: You know girls, we'd be happy to bring you coffee. I was on my way over anyway. [pause] I have something of yours. Lady Chatterley's Lover ... I finished it last night.I love that the you can see "UNEXPURGATED" across the top in bold yellow text, like a wormy hook baiting the prurient. The book is well worn -- how many ladies at Sterling Cooper have already devoured it? It's interesting that Joan, sexually liberated in a sense, is so naughty-schoolgirl dismissive of the books artistic value, since in other instances she seems to take the arts seriously (The Apartment and Marilyn Monroe). There's something in Chatterley's proto-feminism that escapes her.
Office Girl #1: Good to the last drop, right?
Joanie: I can see why it got banned.
Office Girl #2: You don't have to be so shy about it, it's literature.
[Distracted] That is a huge pocket book, Joan.
Joanie: Well, it's got a change of clothing and a toothbrush in it.
Office Girl #2: Ahhh, a hope chest!
Office Girl #1: [offering book] Have you read this Peggy?
Joanie: I don't think that's a good idea. There's uh.... this word in it a lot.
Peggy: I know the word, Joan.
Girl #2: Well, it's sad really. Because even with its reputation, men won't read it and they really should.
Joanie: I don't care if it's 500 years old. It's another testimony to how most people think marriage is a joke.
Girl #2: [fondly] They rip a lot of clothing.
Girl #1: It's a fantasy: He's married, she's married, the desperate passion of the forbidden.
Peggy: Can I borrow it?
Joanie: She's making it sounds better than it is. There's a few good parts that's all. And the book just opens to those pages by itself [giggles]
Girl #1: Hey, don't read it on the train. It'll attract the wrong element.
<--- Major film versions of D.H. Lawrence's novel from France (1955), UK (1981) Italy (1989) and France again (2007). The property also generated spinoffs, comedies, and loose riffs in other countries.
The US ban on Lady Chatterley's Lover was lifted in 1959 so it makes sense that it'd be a water cooler topic in early 1960 when this episode takes place. The book had received its first cinematic translation in France in 1955. Danielle Darrieux (8 Women) starred as Lady Chatterley but American girls in 1960 wouldn't have seen her doing the horizontal. The film was banned stateside, too. Twenty some years later people were trying to get the 1981 English Language version banned in the States. It played US moviehouses in the summer of 1982 despite their efforts.
True to America's puritanical DNA, there's never been an American movie version of the torrid affair between a proper Lady and her rough gameskeeper.
The only version of the film I've seen is the most recent Lady Chatterley from France [netflix]. It stars Jean-Louis Coullo'ch and Marina Hands (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), who is very good indeed, as the sexually explosive lovers. Have you seen it? It's quite a successful film version, really, understanding the sensuality, the earthiness, the emotional baggage and the politics of the affair.
Other references in this episode
Cinema & Television: none. Magazines and literature: Batman, Ladies Home Journal, Playboy Theater: Marriage of Figaro as well as an off-off Broadway show with naked clowns. I'd assume that conversation was made up but Mad Men is so meticulous with its cultural touchstones. Maybe there was a naked clown stage show in the early 60s. Anyone know?