Sign Up For Sexy Emails

FACEBOOK

Like

INSIDE

Advertising

Don Draper

Betty Draper

Smoking

Fashion

Booze

Mad Men Bookshelf

Current Events

Frank O'Hara

Art

Peggy

Decor

Mad Men Movie Club

Playlist

John Cheever

Illustrators

BOOK CONTRIBUTORS

Alex Balk, Smoker

Carol Diehl, Art Critic

Matthew Gallaway , Novelist

Megan Lubaszka, Architect 

Angela Serratore, Historian

Tim Siedell, Ad Man

Natasha Simons, Writer

Christina Perry & Derrick Gee, Designers

Dave Wilkie, Ad Man


PALS

A Continuous Lean

A Modernist

Ad Rants

The Awl

Bad Banana 

Basket of Kisses

Charlie Allen

Dyna Moe

Illustration Art

Ivy Style

Make The Logo Bigger

Mid-Century Home Style 

My Vintage Vogue

Mid-Century Illustrated

Today's Inspiration

April 12, 2013

Don’s flirtation with suicidal imagery in his botched meeting with the Pink Palace brass, reminds one of the executives of “that movie with James Mason walking into the ocean…”
He’s referring to 1954’s A Star is Born: a movie about older man with a drinking problem who sees his alcoholism deepen as his younger wife begins to come into a certain amount of celebrity.
Sound familiar?!?


In the movie, Judy Garland plays a ingenue singer who is discovered by James Mason, an aging but talented actor. He puts her in a movie to help her out and basically immediately feels she owes her life to him from then on out. He begins drinking more heavily the more popular she gets, until he crashes her Oscars speech Kanye-style and accidentally hits her in the face.
Slapstick serves for emotional epiphany and Mason goes into rehab. When he comes out, Judy Garland promises to take care of him but he soon goes off the rails again and — famously — walks into the ocean. Has anyone read Not Waving But Drowning? (“I was much too far out all my life/And not waving but drowning.” So sad!)

The film itself is your pretty standard corny “you’re a star now kid!” movie. Even the death is pretty cheesy — walking into the ocean? What are you, Virginia Woolf? It’s a very feminine death, as well, if you’ll note. Most male suicide has an active component to it and most female suicide is passive (more here on the gender dimensions of suicide). Water plays a huge role in a lot of female suicide, as well. Why did James Mason feel like submitting? And does Don Draper feel the same way? 

He certainly did a lot of submitting in last Sunday night’s premiere: to Megan on the subject of her upcoming soap opera (remember when he refused point-blank last season to let her do theater in another city because of the commitment she’d have to make?); to those photographers on the subject of where his desk should be and what make-up to wear; to Pete and Ken after he threw up at Roger’s mom’s funeral and had to be escorted home; and, of course, to his old haunts in another woman’s arms.

And of course, water is very much on Don’s subconscious after Hawaii.But lo, look how he denies his thoughts of his untimely demise to the Pink Palace ad execs when they call him out on the movie morbidity!

Watch this space for more Don Faces His Mortality: Season 6.
*Footnote by Natasha Simons

March 27, 2012

The French New Wave of Feelings and YeYe

Megan pulled off her coup: a hip cosmospolitan soiree that left the guests yearning to go home and have sex. But where did the foal-like Canadian get her moves from? Where did the sex-kitten, bob cut, hip swish and a peek-a-boo routine originate? Answer: France! Her whole routine was decidedly French New Wave, right down to the casually slumped, hip young crowd on the Draper’s couch. 

Beginning in the late 50s with the “auteur theory”, which, not to get you all worked up, was the new and somewhat daring idea that a director was the owner, or the author, of his film. This seed blossomed into a full-fledged manifesto with a number of hot-shot young directors espousing it, including Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, and Alain Resnais.  The French New Wave was about an aloof stance against the corrupt, flimsy nature of the world. Instead of nihilism or hot-headed rebellion, the New Wavers sought truth in the romanticism of youth, beauty and art. 


There’s no better film that encompasses Nouvelle Vague’s values than Godard’s 1966 masterpiece Masculin-Feminin (a film so trendy it’s STILL inspiring sensitive young artistesses to get that fabulous haircut). Masculin-Feminin works in the strong Marxist elements of the New Wave, mocking commercialism while simultaneously realizing there’s no escape from it — ATTENDANCE TO THE BEAN BALLET IS MANDATORY. In world of bullshit politics, crass commercialism, and an overall corrupt reality the one thing the kids could count on were their feelings. 

Much like many a movement, though the origins of the French New Wave were grounded in theory and a lot of intelligent philosophizing, what ended up leaking through to the mainstream culture was all visual. The aesthetic of the French New Wave was very firmly mod, with Twiggy-like haircuts, tons of cat-eye eyeliner, and A-line dresses. And there were plenty of nonsense songs like the one we heard Our Lady of the Uncomfortable Role-Play sing last night. And that’s how you get, as just one example, the Ye-Ye Girls. 

Ye-Ye, spawned in part from the Beatles’ “She loves you yeah yeah yeah”, is a pop-rock genre defined by its staccato bass line, go-go tempo, minimalist, and unfussy female sound. What each Ye-Ye song had was a smoldering but seemingly unobtainable sex kitten cooing the do-do-da-da sounds. The female lead of Masculin Feminin was an aspiring Ye-Ye Girl, as was the real life actress Chantal Goya. 

"Zou Bisou Bisou" was a Ye-Ye classic and, as we know, very catchy — all the boys of SCDP had it stuck in their heads all weekend.

Footnote by Natasha Simons 

July 16, 2010
Lessons from our primary text!
 Shepherd Mead’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying  (subtitle: “The Dastard’s Guide to Fame and Fortune”)

Beware of ‘Creative’ People.
Advertising agencies are forced to hire so-called ‘creative’ people. They are artists, writers, musicians, radio and television directors, and the like. They are sure to give you trouble. … The writers are thinking about the books they plan to write exposing advertising (and probably you) …The agency has tried to make it easy for you by keeping you away from these people. It has provided keepers or overseers called Account Executives. They are hired for their rugged good looks, their flair for wearing clothes, and their skill — sometimes brutal but always effective — in handling creative people.

 
Related: Rugged looks. 
*Dyna Moe made this piercing image
*Passage discovered by Mary Ellen Kelly!

Lessons from our primary text!

 Shepherd Mead’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying  (subtitle: “The Dastard’s Guide to Fame and Fortune”)

Beware of ‘Creative’ People.

Advertising agencies are forced to hire so-called ‘creative’ people. They are artists, writers, musicians, radio and television directors, and the like. They are sure to give you trouble. … The writers are thinking about the books they plan to write exposing advertising (and probably you) …The agency has tried to make it easy for you by keeping you away from these people. It has provided keepers or overseers called Account Executives. They are hired for their rugged good looks, their flair for wearing clothes, and their skill — sometimes brutal but always effective — in handling creative people.

Related: Rugged looks. 

*Dyna Moe made this piercing image

*Passage discovered by Mary Ellen Kelly!

July 13, 2010
This vision of soft-shoulder, narrow lapeled, two buttoned, smokey glory is Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita (1960).

What you see draped over that drop-dead handsome Italian is called the Continental style which gained popularity in the midcentury thanks to movies like Roman Holiday and Vita.  

As we have established  through wild eyed adoration of Gregory Peck and Cary Grant that by 1962 the smaller suits, with flatter trouser, and thinner ties were considered standard but modern dress for the upwardly mobile man in Manhattan (this will be on the test, people!). But the truly daring man, the fashionable, trendseeking man, could have verged towards the Continental style made popular through the Brioni shop. 

Brioni was an Italian designer who outfitted the olive tanned men of Europe and, most importantly for our purposes, tailored the suits for American movie stars wore whenever they appeared in an Roman romp  (Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Rock Hudson).

The Brioni/Continental style suits have an even slimmer silhouette to their American counter parts, slanting pockets, without  patterns or pins, double cuffs, looser collar and usually comes in cool colors (Brussels blues and Geneva greys), and the general aloofness that comes with riding scooters by 800 year old fountains. 

Now think back to that dreadful number Don wore when he and Betty played their little game of pick up in Rome. He was wearing a bright blue sack suit!  No wonder Betty called him ugly. Only in a place as hip as Rome could Don be a square. 

Related links:
History of Brioni Style [A Modernist]
Ivy League Jazz Style [RL Magazine]
Iconic fountain scene [Youtube]

This vision of soft-shoulder, narrow lapeled, two buttoned, smokey glory is Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita (1960).

What you see draped over that drop-dead handsome Italian is called the Continental style which gained popularity in the midcentury thanks to movies like Roman Holiday and Vita.  

As we have established  through wild eyed adoration of Gregory Peck and Cary Grant that by 1962 the smaller suits, with flatter trouser, and thinner ties were considered standard but modern dress for the upwardly mobile man in Manhattan (this will be on the test, people!). But the truly daring man, the fashionable, trendseeking man, could have verged towards the Continental style made popular through the Brioni shop. 

Brioni was an Italian designer who outfitted the olive tanned men of Europe and, most importantly for our purposes, tailored the suits for American movie stars wore whenever they appeared in an Roman romp  (Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Rock Hudson).

The Brioni/Continental style suits have an even slimmer silhouette to their American counter parts, slanting pockets, without  patterns or pins, double cuffs, looser collar and usually comes in cool colors (Brussels blues and Geneva greys), and the general aloofness that comes with riding scooters by 800 year old fountains. 


Now think back to that dreadful number Don wore when he and Betty played their little game of pick up in Rome. He was wearing a bright blue sack suit!  No wonder Betty called him ugly. Only in a place as hip as Rome could Don be a square. 

Related links:

History of Brioni Style [A Modernist]

Ivy League Jazz Style [RL Magazine]

Iconic fountain scene [Youtube]

June 17, 2010
The colors of success. 

The colors of success

In the number “A Secretary is Not a Toy”  you can see an uncanny resemblence to the Sterling Cooper floor plan as the men in gray suits stroll up and down the rows of steno machines reminding one another that

A secretary is not to be
Used for play therapy.
Be good to the girl you employ, boy.
Remember no matter what
Neurotic trouble you’ve got
A secretary is not a toy. 

She’s a highly specialized key component
Of operational unity,
A fine and sensitive mechanism
To serve the office community.
With a mother at home she supports;
And you’ll find nothing like her at FAO Schwarz.

These play was produced in 1961.  The Tony Awards: Best Musical, Best Book; Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Drama Critics Circle Award were all snagged by it before the movie version came out in 1967. Aspirational lyricism!

I have a confession to a make, you guys.
A few times when I’ve mentioned this blog and the book and the show, before I can finish the sentence some one will blurt out “OH! IT’S LIKE ‘HOW TO SUCCEED IS BUSINESS WITHOUT TRYING!” 
And I say, “Sure! I guess!..?”
I haven’t seen the musical since I was a tot, I remembered men in suits singing (one of them happening to be Robert Morse aka Bert Cooper at an insurance office and some flowy skirts) but until now haven’t really gotten around to re watching it. 
The design..
The interiors…
Robert Morse singing….
Moral of the story: WHAT AN ABSOLUTE FOOL I HAVE BEEN!
PREPARE FOR A SLIGHT DELUGE! 

I have a confession to a make, you guys.

A few times when I’ve mentioned this blog and the book and the show, before I can finish the sentence some one will blurt out “OH! IT’S LIKE ‘HOW TO SUCCEED IS BUSINESS WITHOUT TRYING!” 

And I say, “Sure! I guess!..?”

I haven’t seen the musical since I was a tot, I remembered men in suits singing (one of them happening to be Robert Morse aka Bert Cooper at an insurance office and some flowy skirts) but until now haven’t really gotten around to re watching it. 

The design..

The interiors…

Robert Morse singing….

Moral of the story: WHAT AN ABSOLUTE FOOL I HAVE BEEN!

PREPARE FOR A SLIGHT DELUGE! 

June 9, 2010
While reeling from the Kennedy killing Betty witnesses the on-camera murder of Harvey Lee Oswald and now, she is onthe verge. 
Frantic, she turns to Don hoping some one can make sense of what she just saw or at least share in her despair. No use, Don seems unfazed. He and can only offer her some vague stoicism. Betty’s out the door! She drives to see her boyfriend, the Snug Like a Daddy’s hug Harry Francis. He can’t make sense of it either. Betty says doesn’t know what to do. Maybe see a movie? She tells Francis her favorite movie is ‘Singing in the Rain’

Oh, Betty! What’s there not to love about ‘Singing the Rain’? While Don’s at the art house taking in those mopey black and whites, there’s Betty watching Gene Kelly splash around on MGM lot. I love it!
 


Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. Look at him. He was a different kind of leading man/dancer than Fred Astaire. Kelly was more adventurous and athethetlic; Brawnier, even. As David film Oracle Thomson put it, ‘As a dancer he is not equal of Astaire. Kelly is balletic, Romantic, and sometimes mannered as a dancer who thinks and feels, where Astaire is a man who dances before he thinks.”

But like all great men, there’s a darkness to Kelly. For me, and for Thomson there is a creeping chill Kelly’s performances (perhaps that’s why he was less successful as a straight leading man).  There’s a nascent aggression Kelly that gets blown up on the screen. You can also hear it in his singing voice which was always just a bit strained.  
Thomspson wrote of it: “Too often, Kelly’s teeth glared out at us, as the filling for a smile.’

The title song, and the best number in the movie, is set at night; Kelly is alone, for the most part, doing what you would expect. He is impervious to the elements because of his cheerful mood. Beyond the intricacy of the dance, perhaps one of the reasons why that scene is so indelible is because it’s what so many Americans, like Betty, wanted from the movies: a quick respite from the hard rain falling outside, alone, in the dark.

While reeling from the Kennedy killing Betty witnesses the on-camera murder of Harvey Lee Oswald and now, she is onthe verge

Frantic, she turns to Don hoping some one can make sense of what she just saw or at least share in her despair. No use, Don seems unfazed. He and can only offer her some vague stoicism. Betty’s out the door! She drives to see her boyfriend, the Snug Like a Daddy’s hug Harry Francis. He can’t make sense of it either. Betty says doesn’t know what to do. Maybe see a movie? She tells Francis her favorite movie is ‘Singing in the Rain’

Oh, Betty! What’s there not to love about ‘Singing the Rain’? While Don’s at the art house taking in those mopey black and whites, there’s Betty watching Gene Kelly splash around on MGM lot. I love it!

 

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. Look at him. He was a different kind of leading man/dancer than Fred Astaire. Kelly was more adventurous and athethetlic; Brawnier, even. As David film Oracle Thomson put it, ‘As a dancer he is not equal of Astaire. Kelly is balletic, Romantic, and sometimes mannered as a dancer who thinks and feels, where Astaire is a man who dances before he thinks.”

But like all great men, there’s a darkness to Kelly. For me, and for Thomson there is a creeping chill Kelly’s performances (perhaps that’s why he was less successful as a straight leading man).  There’s a nascent aggression Kelly that gets blown up on the screen. You can also hear it in his singing voice which was always just a bit strained.  

Thomspson wrote of it: “Too often, Kelly’s teeth glared out at us, as the filling for a smile.’

The title song, and the best number in the movie, is set at night; Kelly is alone, for the most part, doing what you would expect. He is impervious to the elements because of his cheerful mood. Beyond the intricacy of the dance, perhaps one of the reasons why that scene is so indelible is because it’s what so many Americans, like Betty, wanted from the movies: a quick respite from the hard rain falling outside, alone, in the dark.


May 3, 2010

1960 trailer for The Apartment. The narrator keeps insisting the story is warm and delightful but according to our beloved film critic David Thomson: 

"In hindsight, I have the impression that The Apartment feels very sour… Its world (like that of Psycho) is unrelievedly bleak—Sheldrake (MacMurray), for instance, is a very cold blooded-fellow.”

We’ve seen it. And we wept in that way you do when you know he will never leave his wife but you still love him. And you feel very alone. 

3:31pm  |  25 notes   |  Mad Men Movie Club 
“How about a movie? I hear The Apartment is good,” Joan baits Roger, waiting for an opportunity to describe the misfortune of Fran Kubelik, a congenial elevator operator played by Shirley MacLaine who sleeps with the married men her office building. “The way those men treated that poor girl, handing her around like a tray of canapés?” Joan snaps when Roger says nothing, “She tried to commit suicide”.
                             
This exchange comes on heels of a hotel room tryst where Roger suggests Joan get her own apartment so they could stop sneaking around.
“Don’t you like things the way they are?” Joan asks while re-adjusting her dress.
 “Are you kidding?” Roger responds. “This has been the best year of my life. Do you have any idea how unhappy I was before I met you? I was thinking about leaving my wife.”
                           
Released in 1960, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment likely sparked similar spats between professional men and the women who loved them (no, not their wives—the other women who loved them). Jack Lemmon stars as a hapless middle-manager whose apartment is considered community property by his bosses: use the pad to conduct extra-marital liaisons. The suicide attempt to which Joan refers comes after MacLaine’s Kubelik, object of affection to Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter, is faced with the grim realization that Baxter’s Sheldrake, played by Fred MacMurray, is, despite his apparent interest in her, is cold, rational, and unlikely to leave his wife. Sound like anyone we know?
                

“How about a movie? I hear The Apartment is good,” Joan baits Roger, waiting for an opportunity to describe the misfortune of Fran Kubelik, a congenial elevator operator played by Shirley MacLaine who sleeps with the married men her office building. “The way those men treated that poor girl, handing her around like a tray of canapés?” Joan snaps when Roger says nothing, “She tried to commit suicide”.

                             

This exchange comes on heels of a hotel room tryst where Roger suggests Joan get her own apartment so they could stop sneaking around.

“Don’t you like things the way they are?” Joan asks while re-adjusting her dress.

 “Are you kidding?” Roger responds. “This has been the best year of my life. Do you have any idea how unhappy I was before I met you? I was thinking about leaving my wife.”

                           

Released in 1960, Billy Wilder’s The Apartment likely sparked similar spats between professional men and the women who loved them (no, not their wives—the other women who loved them). Jack Lemmon stars as a hapless middle-manager whose apartment is considered community property by his bosses: use the pad to conduct extra-marital liaisons. The suicide attempt to which Joan refers comes after MacLaine’s Kubelik, object of affection to Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter, is faced with the grim realization that Baxter’s Sheldrake, played by Fred MacMurray, is, despite his apparent interest in her, is cold, rational, and unlikely to leave his wife. Sound like anyone we know?