Girl, Interrupted

RORY: I’ll tell you what, Sookie. How about Lane and I come up with a few more suggestions for you? Still melodic, but not quite as Girl, Interrupted.

Girl, Interrupted, a 1999 psychological drama film directed by James Mangold, and based on the 1993 memoir of the same name by Susanna Kaysen. The memoir’s title comes from the Vermeer painting, Girl, Interrupted at Her Music. The film is set in New England in the 1960s, and follows a young woman, played by Winona Ryder, who spends 18 months in a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt.

The film received only lukewarm reviews, with most of the praise for the performance of Angelina Jolie, who plays a sociopath. Jolie won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. The author, Susanna Kaysen, didn’t like the film, accusing James Mangold of adding too many invented, melodramatic scenes. Mangold rewrote the story as a parallel to The Wizard of Oz.

It seems possible that Rory could have read the book, either before or after the film came out. Not only does she enjoy female memoir and autobiography, but Susanna Kaysen was admitted to the same private psychiatric hospital where Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton were treated, as well as John Nash.

Annie Sullivan

SOOKIE: Oh, who listens to the lyrics?

LORELAI: Anybody not hanging out with Annie Sullivan by the water pump.

Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), the visually impaired teacher and lifelong companion of deaf, blind and mute student Helen Keller (1880-1968). She was the only person able to get through to Keller and help her learn to communicate with the outside world, and a result, both women became inspirational figures.

At first Sullivan made little progress with her student, until a breakthrough occurred when Sullivan held Keller’s hand under the water pump and repeatedly spelled out W-A-T-E-R into her palm. With great effort, Keller hesitantly said, “Wah-wah”, her first spoken word. Keller then touched the earth, asking for its name as well, and by the end of the day she had learned thirty words. It was the beginning of her learning to read, write, and speak.

These events are depicted in the film The Miracle Worker, previously discussed [pictured].

I Can’t Get Started

This is the song that Sookie has chosen for her wedding, and is playing it for Lorelai, Rory, and Michel to hear.

“I Can’t Get Started” is a 1936 popular song, composed by Vernon Duke with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was introduced in the film Ziegfield Follies of 1936, performed by Bob Hope and Eve Arden. The 1937 version by jazz trumpeter Bunny Berigan went to #10 in the charts and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1975.

Sookie is playing Ella Fitzgerald’s version, which was included on her 1953 album, Sweet and Hot. It’s also on her 1973 live album, Newport Jazz Festival: Live at Carnegie Hall. This album also includes her song, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”, which was previously used as an episode title on Gilmore Girls.

Lorelai protests that the lyrics are far too depressing for a wedding song, being about a relationship that will never get off the ground:

I’ve flown around the world in a plane
I’ve settled revolutions in Spain
The North Pole I have charted, but I can’t get
Started with you

Around the golf course I’m under par
And all the movies want me to star
I’ve got a house, a show place, but I get no
Place with you

You’re so supreme, lyrics I write of you
Scheme, just for a sight of you
Dream, both day and night of you
And what good does it do?

In 1929 I sold short
In England I’m presented at court
But you’ve got me downhearted, cause I can’t get
Started with you

You’re so supreme, lyrics I write of you
Scheme, just for a sight of you
Dream, both day and night of you
And what good does it do?

It’s been chosen as the title of the episode, so we know that the season will end with at least one romantic whump!

Baz Luhrmann

ZACH: It’s like a Baz Luhrmann movie out there.

Mark “Baz” Lurhmann (born 1962), Australian director, writer and producer of films, television, opera, theatre, music and recording. He is the most commercially successful Australian director, with four of his films in the top ten highest worldwide grossing Australian films of all time. He is best known for his “Red Curtain” trilogy of films: Strictly Ballroom (1992), William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), and Moulin Rouge! (2000). His films are known for their eccentric and flamboyant style, lavish sets, bright colours, fast-paced camera cuts and zooms, and highly choreographed, hyperbolic sequences.

Woody Allen in “Annie Hall”

[Lorelai is fixing her makeup near the chalkboard. She sneezes and stirs up a cloud of chalk dust.]

LORELAI: Great, I’m Woody Allen in Annie Hall.

Annie Hall, 1977 satirical romantic comedy-drama film co-written and directed by Woody Allen, who also stars opposite Diane Keaton in the title role. It follows comedian Alvy Singer as he tries to understand why his relationship with Annie Hall ended a year ago. In real life, Diane Keaton’s original surname was Hall and her nickname was Annie; Allen and Keaton had dated several years before the film came out, and Annie Hall is at least partly autobiographical.

Annie Hall met with widespread critical acclaim upon its release, and was a commercial success – Allen’s biggest box office hit, adjusted for inflation. It won four Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, with a Best Actress for Keaton. It also won five BAFTAs and a Golden Globe. It is regarded as one of the best comedies, one of the best romantic comedies, one of the best screenplays, and one of the greatest films of all time.

Lorelai is referring to the scene where Allen’s character Alvy is talked into trying cocaine, only to wind up sneezing so that thousands of dollars of white powder goes everywhere.

High Fidelity

JESS: There’s a record store you should check out. It’s run by this insane freak who’s like a walking encyclopedia for every punk and garage-band record ever made. Catalog numbers . . . it’s crazy. The place is right out of High Fidelity.

High Fidelity, 2000 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Stephen Frears, based on the 1995 British novel of the same name by Nick Hornby, with the film’s action moved from London to Chicago, but otherwise faithful to the book.

The film stars John Cusack as a music-lover named Rob with little understanding of women who owns a record store called Championship Vinyl. He and his employees Dick and Barry (played by Todd Louiso and Jack Black), armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of music, compile “Top 5” lists for every occasion, and openly mock their customers’ tastes. Eventually, Rob is able to produce a mixtape to please his girlfriend, Laura (played by Iben Hjejle).

High Fidelity was a commercial and critical success, receiving praise for its witty dialogue, strong performances and solid soundtrack. It’s been voted one of the best romantic comedies, and one of the greatest films of all time. It was made into a 2020 television series.

It’s interesting that Jess compares the record store he is taking Rory to with one out of a romantic comedy – especially one where a smart but emotionally obtuse young man learns to express his feelings.

EDIT: Thank you to High Fidelity fan Alisa for supplying the correct name of the actress playing Laura.

Christopher’s Gift Basket for Lorelai

Flowers

$25 savings bond

Youth Hostel card

What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard Nelson Bolles (a classic guide for job-seekers)

The Graduate on DVD, the 1967 film starring Dustin Hoffman

The Portable Nietzsche, by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated by Walter Kauffman

Application to join the army

Disposable camera

Pearl necklace in a velvet box

They are all traditional graduation gifts, and/or joke gifts. The camera actually ends up becoming an essential item. Lorelai never seems to consider how Sherry would feel about her boyfriend sending another woman flowers and jewellery.

John Nash

RORY: That diploma hanging on the wall is going to make this all worthwhile, trust me.

LORELAI: I guess, unless I turn into John Nash and start drooling on people.

John Nash (1928-2015), mathematician who made fundamental contributions to game theory, differential geometry, and the study of partial differential equations. His theories are widely used in economics. Nash is the only person to win both the Abel Prize and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics Sciences.

In 1958, Nash began showing clear signs of mental illness and spent several years in psychiatric hospitals being treated for schizophrenia. His condition slowly improved in the 1970s, allowing him a return to academic work by the mid 1980s.

John Nash’s struggles with mental illness and his recovery were highlighted in the 2001 biographical film, A Beautiful Mind, directed by Ron Howard and based on the 1997 best-selling Pulitzer-winning biography of the same name by Sylvia Naser, with Russell Crowe starring as Nash. A Beautiful Mind was a commercial and critical success, winning four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Michael Landon

LANE: [runs up behind them] Hey, wait, stop!

LORELAI: Oh look, it’s Michael Landon.

Michael Landon, born Eugene Orowitz (1936-1991), actor and filmmaker best known for his roles in the television series Bonanza (1959-1973), Little House on the Prairie (1974-1982), and Highway to Heaven (1984-1989).

Michael Landon made an autobiographical television film in 1976, called The Loneliest Runner. The story is about a teenage boy named John Curtis, based on Landon himself, who still wets his bed. His mother publicises his problem by hanging the stained sheets from his bedroom window for all to see.

Every day, John runs home from school to take the sheets down before his friends see them. He starts running with the junior track team to channel his anger and forget the shame and hurt of his dysfunctional family life. Ten years later, he is a gold-medal winning Olympic champion, who credits his mother for his athletic success. Landon plays the adult Curtis himself.

Like John Curtis, Michael Landon wet the bed until he was 14, and his mother Peggy hung the sheets out to shame him. He had Olympic ambitions as a javelin-thrower, but a shoulder injury ended his athletic career, which propelled him into acting.

His unauthorised 19991 biography by Aileen Joyce, Michael Landon: His Triumph and Tragedy, relates that the bedwetting was brought on by the stress of having a suicidal mother. As a child, Michael Landon had to save his mother from drowning herself during a beach vacation.

Woman Who Won the Lottery

LORELAI: I don’t know, didn’t they feed lead to our jumping frog or something?

RORY: Oh yeah, right after they stoned the woman who won the lottery.

Rory references the 1948 short story, “The Lottery”, by Shirley Jackson. Set on a beautiful summer day in an idyllic New England village (based on Jackson’s own home of Bennington, Vermont), the story tells of an annual ritual known as “the lottery”, an old tradition carried into modern times, and seemingly practised to ensure a good harvest.

People draw slips of paper from a box, and a wife and mother named Tessie Hutchinson eventually “wins” by drawing the marked piece of paper. The entire village begins stoning her to death as she screams of the injustice of the lottery – an injustice that only bothers her when she is the scapegoat marked for death.

The story was first published on June 26 in The New Yorker, and proved so unsettling at the time that The New Yorker received a torrent of letters, the most mail they ever received about a story. Jackson herself received about 300 letters about the story that summer, much of it abusive or hate mail. (Some asked where they could go to watch the “the lottery” take place!).

Since then, “The Lottery” has been analysed in every possible literary and sociological way, its careful construction and symbolism noted, and its themes linked with everything from mob mentality, the military draft, and the death penalty. It is one of the most famous stories in American literature, often reprinted in anthologies and textbooks, and has been adapted for radio, television, film, graphic novel, and even (to Shirley Jackson’s bafflement) a ballet.

Apart from being a short story often read for high school English classes, this seems like a story Rory would enjoy. She has a taste for dark and “gloomy” themes, and is a fan of American Gothic. Like Tessie, Rory is from an idyllic New England town, and has been singled out for special treatment – but in her case, it’s to be loved and glorified by the town.

The story reminds us that even the most charming small towns have a dark side, and that includes Stars Hollow. Rory is no doubt thinking of Jess, vilified and forced to leave because of a minor car accident. (The name Jess even sounds a bit like Tessie).