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What Movie Was Don Watching on ‘Mad Men’ Last Night?

What Movie Was Don Watching on 'Mad Men' Last Night?

Mad Men” loves a good arthouse film reference, and in the disorienting opening frames of last night’s “Field Trip,” the series dropped one of its most puzzling cinematic name-checks to date.

Up until the gut-punch of the episode’s final moments, Don Draper had nothing better to do than go to a matinee in the middle of the day. So what was he watching last night? The folks at Film School Rejects are on the case: the clip was from Jacques Demy’s 1969 “Model Shop.” The parallels between the film and Don’s state of mind are on-the-nose.

This was the only American film ever to be made by the “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” director, and it stars Anouk Aimee as a French divorcee adrift in Los Angeles (how very Megan) opposite Gary Lockwood’s floundering architect on the verge of existential despair. (Fun fact: Back in season four, Don and Lane Pryce (RIP) almost went to see “Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” but opted for “Gamera” instead.)

Draper sure has good taste in movies, even if his life isn’t exactly in order. But as of last night, it seems to be getting there. Watch the trailer for “Model Shop” below.

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I saw model shop a couple of years ago at a program presented at SF MOMA. I couldn't quite remember the title when I saw it in the MM episode, so thank you for refreshing my memory. I also seem to recall the lead characters were living under the dispirited illusion of starting afresh in life but their circumstances seemed anything but that. The reference to Model Shop might have been fleeting and easy to forget in the episode, but I think it's influence on the writing the episode may have been somewhat deeper in terms of creating a mood. Three seemed no shortage of ennui in "Field Trip." I felt the episode was more about incipient events – what was about to happen – than what was actually happening, even considering Meagan's breaking up with Don and Don's return to work on probation. We certainly haven't heard the last of either of those events yet.

John Allen


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