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Behind Mad Men: Corporate America in the Sixties


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7:30 p.m. every Thu. from September 25 until October 23

Much has been written about why a television show like Mad Men, set in the advertising world of the 1960s, resonates so strongly with contemporary viewers. Even if three-martini lunches are no longer a standard business practice, the overwhelming social changes driving the show could be said to parallel our own unsteady times. For more evidence, check out Behind Mad Men: Corporate America in the Sixties, a five-film retrospective offering a tour of American dysfunction during that turbulent decade. The series opens with The Apartment (1960), in which an office drone advances his career by lending his home to executives for their extramarital trysts, only to have his strategy implode when he falls for a woman caught in her own illicit imbroglio. A frothier comedic concoction, Lover Come Back (1961), positions advertising rivals in a madcap escalation of attraction. Veering into bleaker territory, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf(1966) explores the caustic disintegration of a marriage. Musical comedy How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1967) doesn't pause for any such self-reflection as a window washer uses the titular self-help guide to ascend the corporate ranks. Closing out the series on a bittersweet coda is The Graduate (1967), wherein a young man's adulterous fling with an older woman reflects a generational refutation of suburban morality. (Pictured: The Apartment)

Brad Richason