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Monday
Mar262012

Mad Men at the Movies: Gillian Hills and 'Zou Bisou Bisou'

It's been so long since the best series on television was airing (17 months!) that this new version of The Film Experience has never seen an episode of "Mad Men at the Movies". Last night the miserable sexy funny smart complex men and women of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce returned to take us all back to the sixties once again. In this series we document the show's love affair with the cinema. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is a movie buff and references tend to be sprinkled in for vintage flavor, character detailing and thematic resonance. Unfortunately this two hour premiere had no movie references. Damn!

5.1 "A Little Kiss, Part 1"
5.2 "A Little Kiss, Part 2"
The episode opened oddly with none of the familiar characters and a confrontation between African American picketers and immature men at an ad agency (not SCDP). By the time the episode ended, a small plot detail in the middle brought it all full circle with the unfamiliar site of the SCDP lobby filled with black applicants applying for jobs.Between the sobering bookends we were treated to a very strong premiere full of humor and potential for the season ahead. The talking point beyond the closing scene was surely the "zou bisou bisou" scene where Don's new wife Megan sang to him seductively in front of all his friends at a surprise birthday party. But the single most brilliant scene involved Joan (the great Christina Hendricks) bringing her baby to the office for a visit. We're talking perfect character farce  The choreography of the scene was so brilliant they should teach it film school... er television school... since it practically defines what this particular medium can do. Very little of what was going on emotionally and inside the character's head was actually spoken but if you've been following all the characters for years all their child-rearing issues and past romances and conflicts just made the scene hilarious and nimbly so. Perfection. A

Megan performing "Zou Bisou Bisou". 

Slate has the translated lyrics and some theories about why this song.

The hit song was originally sung by Gillian Hills who was also an actress. In 1966, the year this new season takes place, Gillian was on screens as "The Brunette" in Michelangelo Antonioni's classic Blow-Up (highly recommended) which is about a fashion photographer who believes he's accidentally photographed a murder. Blow-Up wasn't the only classic to feature her. She also has a role in A Clockwork Orange

Jane Birkin and Gillian Hills in BLOW UP (1966)

Mad Links
Flavorwire a pop culture guide to 1966 when the season takes place
AMC Janie Bryant on the costume designs for Season 5
Technabob Mad Men as an 8 bit game
IndieWire beginnings: each season's opening scene
Pajiba 10 of January Jones' bitch faces to celebrate the show's return 
NPR Eleanor Clift remembers what it was like to be in secretarial shoes as a typist in the 60s 

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Reader Comments (9)

I was sort of anti-Megan last season, but I do think her French flare adds something "cool" to the show, especially as it enter the Swinging part of the Sixties. And also, France was such a big part of moving film and music forward during this time with Serge Gainbourg and the New Wave...it's really perfect. But seriously, CANNOT WAIT for the first interaction between Betty and Megan.

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBia

The best part about last night's double-episode? No Betty!

*runs away*

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

megan signing 'zou bisou bisou' was more exciting and interesting than any number performed this entire season on 'smash'.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterabstew

J.P. don't run! There's many of us who appreciate a Betty free episode! I can take her in small doses. I just hope JJ's pregnancy and the writing don't punish us later with a full hour of the ice queen!

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCity_Of_Lights

Can't get the song out of my head now.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGolden

I've always been a fan of english sitcoms, series, etc. Watching movies can be a stress reliever.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterroom thermostat

Even my daughter is singing the song now, and she's 2.

And J.P., I'm with you. Still suffering from Betty fatigue.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexa

Betty should have been in this episode. Everybody else damn was. January Jones fo' life! And isn't this like the tenth Bobby the show's used? Ha.

And "Zou Bisou Bisou" was kinda awesome. Jessica Pare might grow on me yet. Megan was awful last season, but maybe that's changed now. Her big teeth certainly haven't.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCellis

The "Zou Bisou Bisou" scene was so uncomfortable and cringe-inducing that it practically had me curling up in the fetal position.

In a good way, of course.

March 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.
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