It’s easy to track time with “Mad Men.” Pop culture references are diligently weaved into the AMC drama’s storylines, making it clear what month and year each episode is set in. Wondering what year Don Draper landed in when the show’s final season premiered? Hint: Nixon was being sworn in as President. (Hello, January 1969!)
The Emmy-winning drama features blast-from-the-past songs in its ending credits (when’s the last time you heard Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice” or Paul Mauriat’s “Love is Blue?”), but it’s the movie mentions that really help viewers turn back (and track) time.
Season 1 had Joan (Christina Hendricks) contemplating the 1960 Shirley MacLaine movie “The Apartment,” while Roger (John Slattery) was complaining about Hollywood extremes and the Hitchcock horror flick, “Psycho.” In Season 6, Megan (Jessica Pare) talked movies with stepdaughter Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), dropping ’60s-era titles like “Georgy Girl,” “Alfie,” and “Night of the Generals,” before concluding with, “‘Fistful of Dollars?‘ I think your father would kill me if I saw that without him.”
Movie mentions are great, but Joanie and Roger’s movie date never panned out, and Sally and Megan never made it to a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. So, how about some scenes with the characters actually at the movies, with popcorn and other substances of choice in hand?
Check out five “Mad Men” movie moments.
“Born Free” (1966)
The Season 5 episode “Far Away Places” had Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) calling it a day with matinee after a failed pitch to the Heinz executives. (Could anything be worse than the “bean ballet?”) The film was the 1966 British drama “Born Free,” and Peggy’s mid-day movie included some pot smoking (and more) with a male stranger. The same episode had Peggy and then-boyfriend Abe talking about going to see “The Naked Prey.” Cornel Wilde naked and wrestling a boa constrictor? Peggy was all in.
“Casino Royale” (1967)
By the end of Season 5, Peggy was working at rival ad agency Cutler Gleason Chaough, but the season finale “The Phantom” had Don Draper (Jon Hamm) bumping into her at the cinema. The movie was the James Bond spoof “Casino Royale,” but before the lights dimmed, the former co-workers chatted about Peggy’s newfound success, which he always imagined would alongside him. “That’s what happens when you help someone,” Don told his mentee. “They succeed and move on.”
“Planet of the Apes” (1968)
In Season 6’s “The Flood,” Draper had a rare father-son moment with his boy Bobby (Mason Vale Cotton) when they both played hooky and went to see the 1968 science fiction flick “Planet of the Apes.” Bobby Draper liked the movie so much that he and his dad stayed in the theater to watch it a second time. (“It’s really good we’re seeing it again. Everybody likes to go to the movies when they’re sad,” the tot informed the movie usher.) But there was a surprising backlash after this episode aired. The ending to the Charlton Heston classic was shown in the scene, and some viewers blasted “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner for spoiling the twist ending to the 45-year old flick.
“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
Season 6 had some fans wondering if Megan Draper could be “Mad Men’s” version of Sharon Tate, and the conspiracy theory was further tested in “The Quality of Mercy.” That’s because the Roman Polanski film “Rosemary’s Baby” was heavily referenced in the episode. (The Mia Farrow hit was Polanski’s final movie before the murder of his wife Sharon Tate.) “Mad Men” featured Peggy channeling the flick for a St. Joseph’s children’s aspirin ad, so she and her married crush Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm) went to an early viewing of the movie for inspiration. (Don and Megan were there, too!) So, did the pitch culminate with a Clio worthy commercial? You have to wait for Season 7 to get your answer. But on the plus side, we did get to see Don do his best baby impression.
“Model Shop” (1969)
And most recently, the Season 7 episode “Field Trip” opened with a brief clip from the 1969 Jacques Demy film “Model Shop.” Yep, an unemployed Don Draper was at the movies, watching the film about a man whose relationship with a wannabe French actress was crumbling. You know, kind of like his relationship with Megan.
See the trailer for “Model Shop” here.