If you were listening to NPR news this morning, you might have caught a very nice interview with Jo Sullivan Loesser, the widow of Broadway legend Frank Loesser, best known for his songs for “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Guys and Dolls,” a real contender for the best musical comedy score of all time. The occasion is that this is the year Loesser, who died in 1969, would have turned 100.
So, here’s the key number from “How to Succeed,” in which young, extremely fast-rising executive and ex-window washer J. Pierrepont Finch serenades his favorite person in the world. The film version, directed by David Swift, isn’t a particularly brilliant piece of cinema in terms of taking the piece from stage to screen, but it documents the play on film rather nicely, as you’ll see below.
Of course that’s a young Robert Morse up there as Ponty. I’m not sure how widely known it is to younger viewers of “Mad Men,” but Morse is better known these days as the conniving and sagacious Bertram Cooper, until recently the senior mucky-muck of ad firm Sterling Cooper. (Any similarities between the often somber TV show and the sprightly satirical musical aren’t, of course, all that coincidental.) Morse is an even better actor today, but the above shows how skilled he was at age 35 back in 1966-7 (when he still looked about 20). Daniel “Please don’t call me ‘Harry'” Radcliffe, who really is still practically a zygote, is going to be taking on the role shortly on Broadway, which will be interesting.
After he’s done…well, I wonder if Vincent Kartheiser (i.e., Pete Campbell) can sing at all. I’d pay to see that.
Believe it or not, Will Harris has made a quick jump across the pond to the UK on a super secret mission of entertainment reportage this week. No word if he’ll be in communications with the 21st century descendants of Saint John Powell, Lane Pryce, and the rest of Sterling Cooper’s British overlords. As a result, however, I’m allowed one more whack at this whole “Mad Men” recap thing this week.
So…Don’s lies are becoming more transparent than ever. He arrives for dinner one night and is dutifully given his drink by Betty. She asks him if he’ll be sleeping at home and the answer is no. More work he says. Betty simply accepts that he commuted all the way from Manhattan to Connecticut, only to return to the office later on. This is apparently a regular thing these days.
Soon Don is in bed with the alluring Suzanne Farrell, lest we forget, daughter Sally’s teacher. This episode is entitled “The Color Blue,” and they have a discussion about a boy in her class who wonders if the blue that he sees is the same blue that everyone else sees. She told the boy honestly that she didn’t know. Don’s answer is, not surprisingly, a lot more cynical. Some of us might see something different, but we’d rather keep the differences to ourselves. I wonder what Don will think of the “do your own thing” meme coming a few years down the road.
At work, presumably the next day, Don complains that a commercial being staged for him has a pause in it that will ruin the impact. Peggy Olson, who was playing the lead role in the dramatization, comes up with a simple and effective way to streamline the commercial. Don’s happy and Peggy’s happy. Paul Kinsey, who dreamed up the initial version, is not and goes into full whine mode. It’s not pretty.