Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mad Men 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock

First, for devotees of montage - the film technique first developed by Sergei Eisentein, in which cuts between unconnected images tell a story that goes beyond each of the images individually:

Mad Men had a great example tonight. It's always been one of my favorite techniques in film (and television). Alfred Hitchcock's ending of North by Northwest (1959) does it masterfully. Cary Grant pulls Eve-Marie Saint up into the berth of a fast-moving train - cut to the train hurtling into a big, dark tunnel ... A brilliant way of showing the two making passionate love in prudish 1959 ... not to mention that Cary Grant was never too good in love scenes.

Cut to Mad Men, Episode 2.5. Pete has to give the doctor a sample of semen. He's in the bathroom with girlie magazines - cut to Roger whacking a paddle-ball in his office. Hey, you couldn't have shown any more in 1962, even though we are watching this in 2008. Hitchcock would have been proud.

Now to the rest of the story tonight. Don, drinking and driving out to Stony Brook with Bobbi, veers dangerously off the road when Bobbi distracts him a little too much. The two are shaken up and bruised, otherwise ok. But Don is fined $150 by the local Long Island police, which he doesn't have. He calls ... Peggy, to help bail him out.

Why Peggy? Bobbi wants to know that, too.

The answer reveals a little more of what happened to Peggy last season. She's in an institution, saying she has no memory of what got her there (her baby, that she denied having). Don comes to see her, and talks sense to her. The gist is how easy it is to forget a past you don't like. Don, of course, would know. Just as important, the scene shows Don's fundamental decency - in this case, caring for Peggy - which makes him such an appealing character.

Meanwhile, Bobbi stays at Peggy's overnight, and gives her some advice: if you want to succeed at Sterling Cooper, act like a woman. The next day in the office, Peggy calls Don ... Don.

I'm continuing to enjoy this year even more than last year. Much more than a copy off the xerox machine in the office (which Pete tells the doctor about when asked if he's been exposed to radiation) - this year goes into deeper territory, well below the surface.

See also: Mad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.6 Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons ... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12: The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men

And listen to my fabulous 20-minute interview last Fall with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) at Light On Light Through

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