Saturday, June 19, 2010

MM@M: "Silent movies with organ"

Mad Men @ The Movies looks at the many film references in the Emmy winning series.

Episode 2.2 "Flight 1"
The staff of Sterling Cooper have reluctantly trekked out to New Jersey for a party at Paul Kinsey's new place. He's the most bohemian of the ad men and he never lets anyone forget it.

Trust me Montclair is the knees*. We have Globe Trotter Antiques. We have the Wellmont theater -- silent movies with organ, the Montclair art gallery, George Inness.

Have you heard of him?
Upcoming neighborhoods are always topics of conversation in NY. While I completely agree that loving silent movies is a badge of honor, Kinsey wields all such badges like weapons. He's trying to impress and belittle at the same time. Note the end of the convo: Have you heard of him? So bitchy. This happens to be one of the bitchiest episodes of Mad Men in total. Peggy and Joan get eeeeevil hostile moments, too. If Mad Men were a movie this episode would rank in my Great Moments in Screen Bitchery series.

But back to those silent movies. The parents of most of the Mad Men characters -- mostly minor characters but not all -- would have even seen plentiful silents in their first run. Everyone went to the movies during the silent era. No movie revolution has ever been as seismic and swift as the switch to sound in the late 20s. Black and white, for example, took more than three decades to die out. This episode takes place in 1962 and black and white movies were still regularly being made. It wasn't until 1966 that AMPAS dropped their separate technical categories for black and white as color began to truly dominate. One has to wonder how much longer we'll have 2D or films actually shot on film. 3D can be fun but I'd really prefer it was a passing fad like it was in previous decades. Real life is in 3D and you don't have to where glasses for it.

The first silent I ever saw was the Douglas Fairbanks fantasy The Thief of Baghdad (pictured left) at the Redford Theater one of my holy places. After that I was hooked on silents (preferably with organ). The Redford proceeded each movie, not just the silents, with a half hour live organ overture of old standards. I wonder if they still do? Have any Michigan readers been there?

Other cultural references in this episode
My favorite Mad Men literary reference ever. Peggy's mom responding to a comment about the local library. "I gotta renew The Agony and the Ecstasy. It's takin' forevah." Heh.

*I think he says "the knees" but it's hard to suss out. Was this a common 60s slang version of "the bee's knees"? Anyone know?



OtherRobert said...

He definitely says "the knees." He's really trying to sell his to hip for everything schtick and saying "the knees" rather than "the bees knees" is just one example in that episode.


yeah, abbreviations will do it.

in 2010 everyone is a hipster. It's the age of abbreviations and acronyms OMG ROLF WTF

Volvagia said...

No, the "abbreviations and acronyms" are, in some ways, dumb, especially in over use. Man, I loathe electronica.

Daryn said...

I just watched a great silent movie today (though in my living room couch, without organ). Ernst Lubitsch's The Doll. Lubitsch's German films are in a completely different realm than his American ones. The Doll has crazy expressionist sets and stock characters like Caligari and Metropolis, but the story is light-hearted and whimsical (almost like a Pixar film), with just a few naughty double-entendres to spice things up.

Danielle said...

On a borderline unrelated note, Paul Kinsey is totally my favorite character on that show.


Danielle -- interesting. I never hear anyone say that. I constantly change my mind about which male character is my favorite but with the women, who i love even more, I always go back to Joanie.

Daryn -- that one i haven't seen. must investigate. and, what, you didn't buy an organ to play along with it?