It is arguable that most of Mad Men’s success as a television show can be credited to its attention to detail. The show pays great homage to its roots in the 60s. Many of these roots are obvious, from Betty’s life relating back to the feminist mystique or historical events affecting characters in the show. But, there are also an immense amount of more subtle roots in the show. One huge example is 1960’s horror movies, specifically Alfred Hitchcock movies. In fact, there is a Hitchcock reference in every single episode. Where could this be? Its part of the first thing the viewer sees, the opening sequence.
Asking somebody about the opening credits often creates a very long and interesting discussion. In this interview, Mad Men creator Matt Weiner discusses his original ideas for the opening sequence.
As well as that video, here is a link to the opening sequence to refresh your memory.
Later in the interview Weiner explains how they auditioned people to do the titles. He mentions the name Saul Bass multiple times. Well, the references aren’t exactly references to Alfred Hitchcock himself. They are actually references to Saul Bass, who during his life he was one of Hollywood’s most prominent graphic designer. One of his most famous works was the opening credits for the Alfred Hitchcock movie North by Northwest, in which the opening credits all appear on a skyscraper.
In these titles a building is formed and the titles become part of the building. This is very similar to the Mad Men opening sequence where the office falls apart and we see titles on skyscrapers for the remainder of the sequence. This isn’t the only reference to a Hitchcock film in the opening sequence. Saul Bass also designed the poster for perhaps one of the most famous horror movies of all time, Vertigo. This poster depicts a silhouette falling down in to what seems to be an endless spiral.
In the opening sequence of Mad Men we see the silhouette falling in to an endless abyss of advertisements. It is certainly interesting to see where the opening credits came from. Not many people would think that 60s horror movies would play such a great influence on this show. What else could this show be inspired by? Hopefully, more people will be more conscious of trying to find the shows hidden roots and references.
Link referenced: Imdb.com.
Image from http://posterwire.com/wp-content/images/vertigo.jpg.