Monday, June 21, 2010

MM@M: Ever sneak out of work for a movie matinee?

Mad Men at the Movies investigates the film references in the Emmy winning series.

Episode 2.3 "The Benefactor"
Two film moments in this episode. In the first Betty is at the stables where she rides when she and her friend spot Arthur (Gabriel Mann) the prettyboy fiance of one of her wealthy peers. Betty won't admit her attraction.
Sarabeth Carson: He looks like a little boy.
Betty Draper: I guess.
Sarabeth: He reminds me of Monty Clift in A Place in the Sun, learning how to ride so he can worm his way into the upper crust.
Betty: Somewhere there's a pregnant girl floating in a lake.
Sarabeth: I'm from the South. There are such people.
Gabriel Mann doesn't look much like Monty except for that arguably little boy lost quality. The actor, who you might recognize from High Art or the Bourne trilogy, certainly doesn't look his age (38).

While several Mad Men characters talk about going to the movies, Don Draper (Jon Hamm, the lead) is the only one we ever follow into the cinema and the only one whose frequent moviegoing is discussed by other characters. Later in this episode he steps out of the office to take in a French film. The sequence has no dialogue apart from what's onscreen, the Francois Villon's poem "Ballade des dames du temps jadis."

There seems to be disagreement online about which film this actually is (I'm not sure myself. Anyone know?) but the French New Wave was a big deal in NYC in the 60s so an avid moviegoer like Don Draper would certainly partake. I love that Don watches movies in the pose that Mad Men's marketing team made so instantly famous.

Though this moviegoing sequence has no dialogue or explanation, it has repercussions. Don fires his new secretary who doesn't cover for him -- excuse me, "manage expectations" -- while he is catching this matinee.

Have you ever sneaked out of work or school for a movie?

Other cultural references in this episode: Movies: Pinnocchio (like A Place in the Sun, it's a recurring reference on Mad Men) | Celebrities: Killers Leopold & Loeb | Art: The Medicis of Florence | TV: The Defenders | Literature: F Scott Fitzgerald's "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz" | Entertainment Politics: "I miss the Black List"


Hellephant said...

This '60s B&W movie thing is killing me, all the more so after reading the comment thread you linked to that's mostly dedicated to figuring it out.

I don't remember the dialogue's language, but everyone's saying it's French, so my guess, "Persona," must be wrong. That still sure as hell *looks* like something out of that film's prologue.

I hope somebody figures it out!

Hellephant said...

(Not to mention that I'm half a decade off -- whoops.)

John T said...

I skipped school to go see Zodiac-I really never needed to know how to dissect a shark.

Volvagia said...

1961, right? I get Truffaut out of that. Considering it's not Jules et Jim, my guess is The 400 Blows.

Patrick said...

Did that today, well sort of. Had to work at home today and decided to go see "Letters To Juliet".

A year or two ago I went to Snow Cake after I had called it a day at work, but mere seconds before the film started I got a call from the office. So I had to skip that film and went to 2 Days In Paris, which started a little later.


@hellephant -- well that one still looks a lot like Persona but the other stills that precede it (not included) don't. i'm stumped. the one film everyone agrees includes the poem (i forget the film already) is in color and the sequence Don is watching is in black and white.

@johnt -- agreed. the things they try and teach you!

@volvagia -- i haven't seen 400 blows in years and years and years but i definitely don't think it's that. i remain stumped.

Deborah said...

Nathaniel, we researched this heavily at Basket of Kisses. Ultimately, one of our writers (hullaballoo) was able to ask Matt Weiner at an L.A. event. The answer is: It's never going to be revealed because they were unable to secure rights.

Token Black Girl said...

Yeah and I took my supervisor and the Executive Director with me. I still consider that sneaking out because we literally snuck out the back door like thieves in the night so that the rest of the employees wouldn't catch us. The movie that we just had to see the first showing of on opening day? Eyes Wide Shut.

Carl said...

Yep. The last time was for "Serenity".


token -- i didn't sneak out of work for EYES WIDE SHUT but weirdly enough I also saw it with co-workers on opening day. And i don't often go to movies with co-workers. I usually go with close friends or by myself.

verninino said...

I work for the state and we get seven unscheduled holidays -- which expire at the end of the fiscal year -- I still have three so I will be seeing I Am Love this afternoon. And probably hanging at the MoMA on Thursday.