TAYLOR: When standards slip, families flee and in comes the seedy crowd. You got trouble, my friends.
LORELAI: Right here in River City!
A reference to the 1962 musical film The Music Man, adapted from the hit 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, written by Meredith Willson. Directed by Morton DaCosta, and with Robert Preston in the title role, the film is set in River City, Iowa (based on Mason City) in 1912.
The film is about a conman named Harold Hill who tries to swindle a town by claiming he is raising funds to pay for a marching band. In the song Ya Got Trouble, Harold convinces the townspeople that the pool hall is seducing their boys into sin and vice so that they will sink money into the marching band to save them. The song says repeatedly, “Ya got trouble right here in River City!”.
The Music Man was the #5 film of 1962, and won an Academy Award for its score. Critically acclaimed, it is regarded as one of the best musical films of all time. It was filmed on the same Warner Brothers lot as Gilmore Girls.
LORELAI: She’s [Donna Reed] medicated.
RORY: And acting from a script.
LORELAI: Written by a man.
RORY: Well said, Sister Suffragette.
Sister Suffragette is a song from the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins, written by Richard and Robert Sherman. Sung by Glynis Johns in the role of Mrs. Winifred Banks, it is a pro-suffrage song as Mrs. Banks is a supporter of votes for women. The song’s chorus ends with the words, “Well done, Sister Suffragette!”.
Mary Poppins was loosely based on the children’s book of the same name by Australian author P.L. Travers, and directed by Robert Stevenson, with Julie Andrews in the title role. The story is about a magical nanny who comes to care for two children in Edwardian London, and improves the lives of all the family.
Mary Poppins was the #3 film of of 1964 and received universal acclaim from critics. It won five Academy Awards, including a Best Actress for Julie Andrews, and is generally seen as Walt Disney’s crowning achievement. It was released on home video three times during the 1990s, suggesting that Lorelai may have bought it for Rory the previous decade.
DEAN: So, who’s Donna Reed?
LORELAI: You don’t know who Donna Reed is? The quintessential ’50s mom with the perfect ’50s family?
RORY: Never without a smile and high heels?
LORELAI: Hair, that if you hit it with a hammer, would crack?
Donna Reed, born Donna Mullenger (1921-1986) was an American actress and producer, with a career lasting over 40 years, and roles in more than 40 films. She is well known for her role as Mary Bailey in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life, and in 1953 won Best Supporting Actress playing Lorene Burke in From Here to Eternity.
The Donna Reed Show made her a household name and earned her a Golden Globe for Best Female TV Star, and several Emmy nominations. She also appeared on television in The Love Boat, and as Miss Ellie Ewing on Dallas from 1984-85, her final role.
As Lorelai and Rory only talk about Donna Reed in regard to her role on The Donna Reed Show, it suggests that they are ignorant about her life and career otherwise, or simply discount it. You can’t help but feel that the writer is setting them up as straw feminists.
LORELAI: Think fast [throws them a tee-shirt each]. Tee-shirts for all the girls because I’m the Good Witch of the – hey, aren’t you missing a couple of kids?
Another reference to The Wizard of Oz, earlier discussed. In the film, Glinda the Good Witch of the North (Billie Burke) welcomes Dorothy to Oz, gives her the ruby slippers, and sends her to the Emerald City to find the Wizard of Oz. It is also Glinda who helps Dorothy get home to Kansas. She is a rather glamorous and bountiful mother figure, which seems to be how Lorelai sees herself (and she does help/force Madeline and Louise to get home safely).
LORELAI: I mean, like was she [Rachel] a Catherine Zeta-Jones kind of pretty, or a Michelle Pfiffer-y pretty or –
SOOKIE: She was an Elle MacPherson kind of pretty.
Catherine Zeta-Jones (born 1969) is a Welsh actress who found success on the stage and in the British television series The Darling Buds of May (1991-1993). She established herself in Hollywood with films such as The Mask of Zorro (1998), Entrapment (1999), and Traffic (2000), often chosen for roles where her sex appeal could be used to advantage.
Michelle Pfeiffer (born 1958) is an American actress, singer, and producer. She began her acting career in 1978 after winning two beauty pageants, and her breakout role was in the 1983 crime film Scarface. She had leading roles in films such as The Witches of Eastwick (1987), Dangerous Liaisons (1988), The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), Batman Returns (1992), The Age of Innocence (1993), Dangerous Minds (1995), and What Lies Beneath (2000). She is considered to be one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood as well as one of the most beautiful.
Elle MacPherson (born Eleanor Gow in 1964) [pictured] is an Australian supermodel, actress, television host, and businesswoman. She rose to fame during the 1980s with her girl next door image, was often chosen for swimsuit shoots, and became known as The Body because of her figure. Lorelai seems to be quite threatened to discover that Luke’s ex-girlfriend is an “Elle MacPherson kind of pretty”.
[Pan to Sookie and Lorelai climbing stairs]
SOOKIE: Did you ever see Everest?
SOOKIE: It’s a good movie.
Everest is a 1998 45-minute IMAX documentary film about the difficulties involved with climbing Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world. Narrated by Irish actor Liam Neeson, it focuses on the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which a group of climbers became trapped by a blizzard near the summit. Everest received good reviews, and made $128 million during its theatrical run – the highest gross of any documentary to this date.
This is the closest that Sookie gets to making a complaint about having to buy cheap seats, as she likens their climb to their seats to struggling up Mount Everest.
LORELAI: Well, I think you’re actually making some friends here.
RORY: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. They’ve basically just moved off the plan to dump the pig’s blood on me at the prom, that’s all.
Rory is referencing the 1976 horror film Carrie, based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King – his first novel to be adapted to film. It was directed by Brian De Palma, and starred Sissy Spacek in the title role. The film is about a shy, unpopular sixteen-year-old girl named Carrie who is regularly bullied at school.
When Carrie is persuaded to attend the school prom, some bullies rig the election so she is crowned Prom Queen, then dump a bucket of pig’s blood on her when she comes on stage to accept her crown. As Carrie has telekinetic powers, mayhem ensues as she takes her vengeance against everyone who witnessed her humiliation.