Monday, September 13, 2010

MM@M: Peyton Place (From Big Screen to Small)

Previously on Mad Men @ the Movies: 4.1 Live From Times Square 4.2 Sixties Sweethearts 4.3 Catherine Deneuve & Gamera, 4.4 Jean Seberg, 4.5 Hayley Mills & David McCallum, 4.6 Chaplin the Sad Clown 4.7 "No Bad Seats"

freelance creative Joey and name-dropping Harry discuss Peyton Place

Episode 4.8 "The Summer Man"
In yesterday's episode, Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks) have a difficult showdown with Joey (Matt Long) the freelancer, another example of the show's study of sexism in the workplace. Joan turns on Peggy, despite Peggy's efforts to help. Joan is still in her downward spiral, less powerful in the office, helpless at home, and continually obsessing over Vietnam. Meanwhile, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) finally pulls himself out of his spiral. After last week's instant classic episode, which was very tightly focused, this was a rather uncharacteristic episode with prolonged narration from Don and a jumble of different scenes that felt like transitions away from old storylines.

<--- Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal in Peyton Place

There were several cultural references in this episode such as Margaret Mead, Aesop's Fables, Life Magazine, Ray Charles but the closest we came to movies were two properties that had been or were to become movies. Broadway sensation The Odd Couple was cited with the classic "Are you an Oscar or a Felix?" question, but it would be another few years before that comedy transferred to the big screen. In another scene Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) tried to convince troublesome Joey to audition for a role opposite Ryan O'Neal on "Peyton Place" (1964) because he was so small screen handsome. Joey, unbeknownst to Harry, misinterpreted this as a gay come on.

Ryan O'Neal is a familiar name to anyone who lived through the 1970s when his fame was at its peak but in 1965 he hadn't yet made the jump from small to big screen. Peyton Place had just made the opposite journey. The original film adaptation of the novel (my review) was a Best Picture nominee in 1957 -- one of Oscar's most honored losers actually with 9 nominations and 0 wins -- but it became a series in 1964 catapulting both Ryan O'Neal and Mia Farrow into A List movie stardom once they moved on.

Clip. Mia is heavily featured. Ryan shows up until the 2:36 mark.

Have you seen either version?

The only connection that cropped up in my head with the movie version of Peyton Place and this episode is that Constance McKenzie (Lana Turner) is one (enjoyably) frosty bitch and Mad Men loves that type... though Betty softened beautifully in this episode just as Joan pulled her icy armor closer.

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