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May 13 2012

Mad Men @ The Movies: Megan,The Actress

In Mad Men @ The Movies we talk about the show's movie references.Mad Men happens to love the movies and we happen to love Mad Men.

Megan Draper:My father won't care if he finds out you read James Bond.
Don Draper:You know what?It's a good book.You should read it.

Eyebrows were raised recently when it was announced that Jessica Paré would be submitting herself in the lead actress category at the Emmys for this season ofMad Men.Over the show's interminably long hiatus she graduated from guest star to...well,the new Mrs.Don Draper fits the "Lead"description in every way. Not only does Megan gets key storylines in every episode but her energy,impulsiveness,and partial foreignness is something like a youthquake for the show,especially since all the other characters are aging quicker than they'd like to.

In"At the Codfish Ball"and"Lady Lazarus"Megan's decisions continue to cause aftershocks with Don,Peggy,Roger and more who all seem to interpret Megan's decisions through their own narcissistic lens.Her parents visit,she saves a major account (Heinz Baked Beans) proving her natural aptitude at advertising but instead of celebrating she announces her resignation.She secretly still wants to be an actress and has been attending auditions on the sly.

Movie grammar and a pinch of Hitchcock after the jump...

Meanwhile...Peggy's relationship turns serious with a decision to move in with Abe,the boyfriend she's constantly neglecting (see previous post).Pete starts a bizarrely obsessive affair with a clearly neurotic housewife (Rory Gilmore herself),and Don Draper is mystified by current Beatles inspired sounds "when did music become so important?"

In an early scene inAt the Codfish Ball(also a Shirley Temple number in 1936'sCaptain January) Don is shown reading the book "The Fixer"which was adapted into a film two years later winning an Oscar nomination for Alan Bates as an unjustly imprisoned initially apolitical Jew in Tsarist Russia.The visual cue at first seems random but given that Megan's father's communist politics are the subject of tension /discussion and given that Abe's Jewishness is a thorn in Peggy's mother's side,it can't be accidental.

While Megan is pitching her Heinz Baked Beans idea to Don Draper she discusses a mother serving her daughter baked beans in different time periods,all to be played by the same actors using "those dissolves you see in the movies". Movie grammar is important toMad Menand usually telling.In a pitch scene for a new client,Michael Ginsberg promises the commercial will be shot-for-shot likeA Hard Day's Night(1964),though the ending sequence with characters staring out from the screen will be just like inThe Birds(1965).

Michael's pitch: A Hard Day's Night with a Hitchcock detour

Even shot-for-shot you can't replace one thing with another -- the ad men offer up plentiful Beatles sound-alikes -- but identity is crucial and people arenotinterchangeable.Haven't Joan and Peggy and weMad Menfans  long since learned that Megan is not Betty 2 as we first believed.When Megan quits the firm,Peggy has to step in for her to do a  loving couple banter pitch with Don for Cool-Whip and it goes horribly comically wrong in one of "Lady Lazarus"best scenes.Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss have crazy good chemistry as actors but Don & Peggy are no Don & Megan when it comes to romantic chemistry.

Alexis Bledel is a dangerous liaisonIt's also worth noting that Pete's new fling Beth Dawes (Alexis Bledel) looks suspiciously like his wife Trudy;you could easily dissolve from one to the other.She's just as put together on the outside,a perfect brunette housewife exterior,but on the inside she's nothing like Trudy and quite possibly crazier than Pete.After one night of fucking,he apparently can't live without her.

Glenn:How's the city?

P.S.Another episode ofMad Menairs tonight.We'll try to be quicker about these points as we enter the final stretch of Season Five.

Other Cultural References: Bluto (from Popeye),Francis the Talking Mule who starred in several 1950s comedy feature films,and The Zombies,The Spoonfuls,Herman's Hermits,and The Beatles.

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Reader Comments (11)

Don't forget Pete inexplicably reading The Crying of Lot 49 on the train.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Was that the first reference to James Bond in the series?Seems odd that by late 1966,with four Bond movies already released,the show hasn't mentioned the franchise at all.And by '66,there weren't any new Bond books being published - Ian Fleming died in 1964.Not that they weren't still being read,but Bond was big in the 60s - especially the films.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeith Gow

Keith -- They have mentioned Bond before but I can't remember in what context.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Ah,Ian Fleming.Legacies are meant to mutate,devolve and be forgotten.

Also,I really need to sit the fuck down and watch all the episodes so far.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

I know this post is about Mad Men at the movies (pop culture,etc.),but is anyone else loving Jessica Pare on this show as much as I do?Megan is a glimmer among dour characters.Pare seems very earnest in her portayal.And that damn Zoo-bee Zoo-bee Zoo song (Damnit!Can't stop singing it!) made me love Jessica and Megan even more.Too soon to say I hope she is Emmy nominated?

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

Really it's great to know about this movie which is mad men as the name is defining this mad man like something going to happen with madness.And what we can say about james bond such a great actor in the world.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered Commenterwatch movies online

I love what Jessica Pare is going and Megan's character in general is quote refreshing.I do wish we get more Peggy.But then again I'll never be truly happy until they re-name the show The Peggy Show,so my bias is showing.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

You can find all the James Bond references on my site.They include,but are not limited to,calling John Hooker "Moneypenny"from the beginning of Season 3.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Loving J.Par too,although she highlights a pet peeve I have with movie or tv characters that speak a foreign language (foreign to the language of the screenplay,that is).Usually,the foreign character is played by a local or an actor of a similar ethnicity who is not fluent in that language and it ends up being botched and sometimes detrimental to the performance (SO many examples with Arabic characters).Other times,the actor is fluent,and it not only makes sense,but enhances the performance.The annoying part here is that J.Par is actually FROM Montreal,and she's playing a French Canadian,yet her accent switches from Parisian French to French Canadian,like,for no reason.I don't get it.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterG.ShaQ

Beth seems like a darker Betty to me.I don't think it's a coincidence that both their names are from the root name Elizabeth,and the Dawes house is the same set as the old Draper house in Ossining.

May 14,2012 | Unregistered CommenterF

Loved this episode.The best moment hands down was during the ad pitch when Peggy told Don to 'SHUT UP'.Just perfect.I love how strong and resilient Peggy is becoming in expressing herself the way a man would do and I love that Don can take it.

June 1,2012 | Unregistered CommenterRiz
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