Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MM@M: The Apartment (1960)

Mad Men at the Movies: We've been talking about the movies and film stars referenced in the two-time Emmy winning (yay!) 1960s set series. Previously name-checked: Gidget,Wizard of Oz, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Natalie Wood, Joan Crawford, Marty and Grace Kelly

1.10 "The Long Weekend"
Sterling (John Slattery) proposes a public date with Joanie (Christina Hendricks) since his wife Mona will be out of town for Labor Day weekend. Sterling proposes dinner, naked. Joanie isn't playing this particular conversational foreplay game. Her frustration with their affair is starting to show.
Joanie: How about a movie? Have you seen The Apartment?
Sterling: I went last week with Mona and Margaret.
Joanie: I hear Shirley Maclaine is good.
Sterling: Oh please, a white elevator operator? And a girl at that? I want to work at that place!
Joanie: [turning on him] Oh, I bet you do. The way those men treated that poor girl, handing her around like a tray of canapes. She tried to commit suicide.
Sterling: So you saw it, huh?
At this point he realizes the conversation isn't strictly about the movie. Sterling tries to smooth things over.
Sterling: Oh, Red, that's not how it is. Look, It was crude. That's the way pictures are now. Did you see that ridiculous Psycho? Hollywood isn't happy unless things are extreme.
Joanie: It didn't seem that extreme to me.
Sterling: Are we actually going to get into a fight over a movie? You know Mona had a dream once where I hit the dog with the car. She was mad at me all day. And I never hit the dog. We don't even have a dog.
Later in the same episode we see that Joanie, who never intended to spend the weekend with her boss/lover, has also completely soured on seeing a movie. She makes plans with her best friend Carol (Kate Norby) instead.

Carol: All I want to do is sit in the movies and cry.
Joanie: No movies. Let's look for some actual bachelors, empty their wallets.
Since Shirley Maclaine has already been name-checked, you should know that we've moved on from the emotional volatility of The Apartment and we're now entering the subdued internal terror of The Children's Hour (1961). Carol is not so interested in the bachelors if you know what I mean.

Both Psycho and The Apartment, two "extreme" movies, premiered in the same week in NYC in June of 1960. They both became sensations, ending the year comfortably in the box office top ten. It makes total sense that people would still be talking about them in early September. Once upon a time movies were not "over" after opening weekend. They played for months and there was no such thing as DVDs. Opening weekend was the beginning of the discussion, not the end. [*wipes nostalgic tear for bygone eras away]. Months later both films were in play at the Oscars too, with The Apartment the night's big winner taking home Picture, Director, Screenplay, Art Direction (it beat Psycho in this category, what???) and Editing. It's also worth noting that Shirley Maclaine, so suicidal on screen in the early 6os, also had reason to cry offscreen. She lost the Oscar many initially thought she'd win to "the slut of all time" Elizabeth Taylor in BUtterfield 8, when Taylor was suddenly hospitalized.

Ever had an argument about Psycho or The Apartment? Ever had an argument about a movie that wasn't really an argument about the movie? Arguments in disguise. I can tell you that I have dreamed about a movie when I hadn't seen the movie. The picture was The Silence of the Lambs which starred in three (!) of my dreams before I ever saw it. How mental is that? I guess my subconscious isn't happy unless things are... extreme.


Daniel said...

I've been waiting for this edition MM@M since it first started, but you missed my favorite part of this episode! It's when at the end, Joan and Cooper get in the elevator, and he tells her the floor he wants to go to, and she pushes the button. It sounds kind of corny now, repeating it, but it's such a killer end to the episode.

I also like the other Wilder reference (if it's not just a coincidence) in the title.

Univarn said...

I love The Apartment, such a great film. You also have to take into account when movies were released they didn't really get "wide" release as it's known today. Prior to that it was almost entirely trickle down effect, so talk on big movies like Alamo, Apartment, Psycho could last forever. Granted I still have yet to get into Mad Men, something I really need to do. I've been putting it off long enough.

Chase Kahn said...

I loved Peggy's moment in episode 2 of this season where she sings "Bye Bye Birdie" in the mirror...

Ann Margaret is getting lots of play this season.

MrJeffery said...

Love love all the references in "Mad Men." They are so subtle with the social changes going on at the time. "The Apartment" is a knowing homage. I feel at times, the show has elements of both Wilder and Hitchcock.

Andrew K. said...

Although I do think Shirley was phenomenal and deserved the win for The Apartment I don't really hate Liz in BUtterfield 8. Maybe I should see it again. Oh well.

And yes faux arguments about movies. Me and my best friend had this ridiculous argument about The English Patient. It started out with him saying that Katherine and Almasy were just physically attracted to each other and me defending their honour [sigh]. And then it segued into me liking the bad stuff just because it's bad...la de da...clearly not about the movie.


and by "bad stuff" do you mean sex stuff?

The English Patient does get people riled up, doesn't it. Remember that SEINFELD episode?

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen it yet, but last night I dreamed about 500 days of Summer. I guess I was JGL's character, and Zoeey and I were in a store. And I couldn't make her notice me or say anything to me. There were this really long pauses that could be felt even in the weird timing dreams take place in.

Anyway, I think I'm going to like that movie.

Notas Sobre Creación Cultural e Imaginarios Sociales said...

[Movie discussions that turn into something else]...ALL the time, especially if I like someone, which is when I transform into Elizabeth Bennet and blame the other person for their extreme pride and arrogance.

amir_uk said...

"Once upon a time movies were not 'over' after opening weekend... Opening weekend was the beginning of the discussion, not the end."

Ah! Yes! So true. This frustrates me too. It's like it's not cool to discuss last week's movie anymore. Especially in the age of Twitter. How did we find ourselves in this sorry state?!...

Paul Outlaw said...

Previously name-checked: Don't forget the classic 42nd Street! ;-)

Unknown said...

[Movie discussions that turn into something else]...Every discussion of Transformers or some such I've overheard (never participating) turns into a THINLY veiled critique of the intelligence of the person defending the movie.

Andrew K. said...

Actually it never occurred to me if it was sex stuff but his argument was that Hana/Kip were more potent as a couple and all Kate and Almasy did was have sex, and it was an affair and why are affairs romantic etc...

And that Sienfeld episode. Harumph. I have never forgiven Julia Louis Dreyfuss.


i haven't read the english patient book but i think when we did the best picture from the outside in on that film and reading the comments and whatnot i finally understood that maybe hana/kip were a lot more important to the story than the film thought they were.

Andrew K. said...

TEP is my favourite film so I am biased. Kip and Hana were as important as they could be. Kip and Hana were important to the film. The movie was already long enough and...correct me if I'm wrong though...but doesn't Juliette have more screen time than KST? The Kip Hana story is good but I really can't look away from Kate/Almasy.

I read the book a looooong time ago before I was a teen [yes I was that type of child] but I don't have it anymore and can't seem to find it here in Guyana.

Unknown said...

"The way those men treated that poor girl, handing her around like a tray of canapes."

Interesting that Joan is so upset by the movie that she gets the plot slightly wrong -- Shirley MacLaine's character does not get "passed around" -- she gets treated badly by one executive.