Mad Men’s Biggest Movie Inspirations Make The Show Even Better


Mad Men is influenced by a number of classic movies, which add extra layers to the show and improve it along the way. Film plays an important role in the life of advertising executive and creative director Donald Draper (Jon Hamm). He is regularly seen spending days in movie theaters, watching the latest releases in an effort to keep his own work relevant to the times. There are many movie references across all seven seasons of Mad Menlike when Don and his wife Megan find the movie Rosemary’s baby disturbing. Their horror has added thematic weight due to the fact that it takes place in an apartment complex across the street from theirs. Not only that, but budding movie star Megan becomes an analogue of Sharon Tate, the murdered wife of Rosemary’s baby director Roman Polansky.


One of the most emotional scenes of all Mad Men is when Don Draper takes his son Bobby to a screening of Planet of the Apes. After witnessing the downfall of humanity, Don sees his son offer a simple act of human kindness to one of the theater attendants, giving him hope for the future. There are many other crucial references dotted throughout Mad Men, which add to the show’s vivid context of real-world history and popular culture. So much so that when approaching Mad MenIn the final season of , creator Matthew Weiner curated a selection of films that inspired the series to be screened at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York.

RELATED: Mad Men: The Real Ad Agency That Inspired The Series

The season of special screenings was called Mandatory Viewing: Mad Men Film Influences, some of which were obvious choices and some less so. A movie, Groundswritten by The twilight zone‘s Rod Serling was a touchstone for how Mad Men addressed office politics and generational clashes. by Claude Chabrol The Good Women, a film Weiner saw in film school, also influenced Mad Menproduction design as well as themes surrounding working women and gender equality. A total of ten films screened during the season, and these are some of the most intriguing comparisons.

Mad Men’s pilot influenced by Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest (and finale)

by Alfred Hitchcock from north to northwest is one of the most obvious influences on Mad Menit is Don Draper from start to finish. In the 1959 thriller, Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a Caddish advertising executive who is mistaken for George Kaplan, a spy, due to a misunderstanding at a local bar. In Mad MenCaddish advertising executive Donald Draper is apparently mistaken for someone called Dick on his ride. Mad Men reverses the erroneous identity plot of from north to northwest when he reveals that Donald Draper is actually Dick Whitman. While Grant’s Thornhill assumes the identity of George Kaplan, Dick Whitman assumed the identity of Don Draper. This is a connection that has been visually flagged in one of the Mad MenThe final episodes of season 7, episode 13, “The Milk and Honey Route” in which Don waits for a bus on a deserted country road, as Thornhill did in From North to Northwest, preceding the film’s iconic chase sequence.

It’s not just John Slattery’s iconic Mad Men namesake of the character Roger who links from north to northwest at Mad Men, Nevertheless. In his program notes for the season at MOMI, Weiner explained how the look of the Hitchcock film inspired Mad Menvisual style in the pilot. Both from north to northwest and Mad MenThe pilot is set in New York City during the transition from the 1950s to the 1960s, so that was a key visual touchstone. Weiner wanted a slightly more realistic aesthetic than from north to northwest Cinematographer Robert Burks’ more stylized approach, but still felt like the contemporary look and feel would similarly reflect the look and feel of Mad Men.

Billy Wilder’s Apartment and Mad Men Broke Sixties Gender Politics

Another obvious influence on Mad Men is Billy Wilder’s classic romantic comedy, The apartment, released in 1960. Starring Jack Lemmon and Only murders in the building’s Shirley MacLaine, it tells the story of CC Baxter (Lemmon), an ambitious insurance employee who rents out his apartment to older colleagues for extramarital trysts. The film explores office politics and the questionable moral choices people have to make to advance in their careers. It also explores how badly these seemingly respectable men treat the women in their lives.

RELATED: Mad Men: Don Draper’s 19 Mistresses Explained

Mad Men explores very similar themes, particularly in season 5, episode 11, “The Other Woman” in which Joan (Christina Hendricks) is asked to sleep with a member of the selection committee to obtain from Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price the Jaguar advertising contract. It’s a shameful proposition made to Joan by her male colleagues, but she agrees to do it, in exchange for a 5% stake in the SCDP association. Like Jack Lemmon’s CC Baxter, Joan also transforms her career by sacrificing her morals, but the situation she finds herself in says more about how the men in her life objectify women as currency to be traded in business deals, in a manner similar to Fred MacMurray’s caddish. boss in The apartment.

David Lynch’s Blue Velvet Influenced Mad Men’s 1960s Interrogation

David Lynch isn’t the most obvious director to have had an influence on Mad Menbut Matthew Weiner praised Blue velvet. Lynch’s film had a huge impact on Matthew Weiner, and in his program notes he linked the film to his decision to join film school. Lynch’s examination of the darkness and depravity hidden behind white suburban picket fences was a precursor to his iconic 1990s series twin peaks and also influenced Weiner’s own interrogation of American suburbs in the 1960s.

Weiner noted that the historical distance between Lynch’s 1980s film and the 1950s setting allowed the director to interrogate the past. First broadcast in 2007, Mad Men did the same with real events from the 1960s. Although less dark and disturbing than David Lynch’s work, Mad Men often contained surreal and comedic flourishes, such as the infamous lawnmower scene from season 3, episode 6, “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency”. Betty Draper’s (January Jones) suburban boredom has also led to a disturbing psychosexual relationship with young Glen Bishop (Matthew Holden Weiner) who treads Oedpal territory similar to blue velvetthe strange love triangle between Jeffrey, Frank and Dorothy.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Dizziness Influenced Mad Men’s Visual Style

by Alfred Hitchcock vertigo, in which James Stewart’s acrophobic sleuth becomes obsessed with a woman representing someone he’s lost, shares a similarity to the bond Dick Whitman forms with Donald Draper’s real-life widow. However, that’s not what influenced Weiner’s show, as the creator had never seen the movie before. Mad MenThe first season of has entered production. Weiner finally saw the Hitchcock film during the break between Mad Men season 1 and the start of production on season 2. He was enamored with the film’s visual style and talked about how much watching vertigo was like watching someone else’s dream.

Robert Burks’ cinematography certainly inspired the way January Jones was photographed and costumed as Betty Draper, often looking like vertigo‘s Kim Novak or another of Hitchcock’s leading blonde ladies, Grace Kelly. Weiner explained how Burks’ doll pulled through Kim Novak’s hair communicated to him what he wanted Mad Men to look at. There are often dreamlike sequences to Mad Men, which highlight the artificiality of the advertisement and the characters themselves. There were a lot more movies in Weiner’s season, all of which speak the same way Mad MenCinematic literacy and thematic ties to some of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, further enhance audiences’ appreciation of the richly drawn world of Madison Avenue.


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