I do a weekly movie review on my other blog, and recently, I reviewed The Apartment.

I mention this because I’m self-aggrandizing Matthew Weiner often cites The Apartment as one of his major influences in creating Mad Men. The era (The Apartment is a 1960 film) and the business milieu are obvious, but at the oft-cited Burns Center event, he also talked about the way that The Apartment starts with a lot already going on; that more of the movie shows you things that the characters already know (Baxter has a crush on Fran, Baxter’s apartment is being used by management, etc.), than shows you things that haven’t happened yet. When something new happens, it’s major.

Another very visible movie for us Mad Hatters is How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, starring Robert Morse (our own Bertram Cooper). Weiner says he didn’t have Robert Morse specifically in mind for the role, just someone venerable from the era who could hold that kind of power.

If you’re not familiar with How to Succeed…, it’s a musical about, well, succeeding in business. An ambitious window-washer (Morse) uses a book of the same title as the film to guide him up the corporate ladder. The jobs don’t matter, the work doesn’t matter, and the methods don’t matter. It’s all about success.

I compare the two in my review:
(more…)

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Sunday, May 18th, was Robert Morse’s 77th birthday.

I’d written a little piece in which Matthew Weiner talks about casting him (and other tales) here.

Quoting uh, me:

He had to audition, like everyone. He wasn’t at all insulted by that, but he “had nooo idea what was going on”. He kept saying, So much yarn, so little time, which Weiner put into the show.

From IMDb about his tony awards:

Has won two Tony Awards: in 1962, as Best Actor (Musical) for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” a role he recreated in the film version, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967); and in 1990 as Best Actor (Play) for “Tru,” a one-man show in which he played Truman Capote and a performance he recreated on television as “American Playhouse: Tru” (1992). He was also nominated for Tony Awards three other times: once as Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic), in 1959 for “Say, Darling;” and twice as Best Actor (Musical), in 1960 for “Take Me Along” (an Award won by co-star Jackie Gleason) and in 1973 for “Sugar.”

I watched Tru when it was on PBS over and over (I had taped it). It was exquisite, and he was brilliance.

Happy birthday week, Mr. Morse! We are so glad you are on Mad Men.

Birthday kisses from BoK!

Matthew Weiner spoke to the casting of Robert Morse.

He can’t take credit for it; he knew they wanted some “old luminary”. It was Tom Palmer who suggested him, and Weiner was thrilled at the idea.

(There’s no one who reads this who doesn’t know that Robert Morse originated the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and who doesn’t get what a brilliant and hilarious nod that is to the fourth wall, right?)

He had to audition, like everyone. He wasn’t at all insulted by that, but he “had nooo idea what was going on”. He kept saying, So much yarn, so little time, which Weiner put into the show. (Was it New Amsterdam? In Ladies Room, in reaction to all the boys running around in t-shirts playing with Right Guard.)

He still doesn’t know the name of his character. He calls himself Sterling Cooper.

Awesome.

Weiner then spoke a bit about the Asian-influenced behavior of the character. He said he’d wanted that from the beginning; that it fit the period. He said that while the shoelessness is Asian, he could also wear house shoes, but he took that from someone specific he had known.

And then he revealed…

Really, like most of the things that he does, they come off as eccentricities, but they’re really a way of controlling other people.

See why we could talk to him for like… EVER?