When it comes to combining music with television or cinema, I invariably remember movies or shows for those moments. When it’s done well, it’s exhilarating. Martin Scorcese, my sources tell me, championed using popular songs instead of original scores back in the early 1970s, as far back as Mean Streets. Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola, Guy Ritchie and Wes Anderson come to mind for directors who do this in a very entertaining way today.
As far as television, Mad Men did a tremendous job. They turned me on to a lot of music and the song was always dead on with the visuals too. (Check out Mad Men’s playlist on Spotify) This particular scene gave me chills the first time I saw it because serial philanderer Don had been loyal to his new wife Megan for a little while and then she wanted to become an actress and take on a role that meant other actors would kiss her on set and Don… flipped. He was first jealous, then angry, and then enraged. Ultimately, the next day he relents with the “If this is what you want…”.
This scene picks up with Don leaving Megan to her fantasies. He literally walks away from her, becoming more distant with each step, until the camera’s angle changes dramatically and he steps into a bar and walks toward the bar counter for his Old Fashioned. I love the James Bond You Only Live Twice theme playing, the fact that it’s being sung by Frank Sinatra’s daughter adding yet one more layer of Cool, the order of his drink (Shoutout to Shaken, not stirred!), the suit and finally the look he gives the girl – when she asks him her question. Also, as always, amazing use of shadows, smoke and silhouette. Are you alone?
Regarding Jon Hamm’s Don Draper performance specifically, I am repeatedly astounded by how good he is. When people ask me how I can say that this is my favorite acting performance in a television show, I look at them like: <==
It’s strange thinking/writing about Mad Men in the past tense. What a great show that was. When it was at it’s best, for me, it was better than everything else.