Before directing ‘The Deer Hunter’ and ‘Heaven’s Gate’, Michael Cimino was a highly successful director of hip and groovy 1960s television commercials. Although he technically was part of an all-in-one advertising/production house called Madison Pollack and O’Hare (MPO), he apparently was always a step outside of the group, marching to his own determined drum beat as he would continue to do through the rest of his fascinating career. The above are two of his most famous commercials, the first for Pepsi and the second for United Airlines. The Pepsi ad, shot at Disneyland in 1965, looked nothing like any TV ad anyone had yet seen when it aired. It flies through its one minute running time bringing together images and styles that were flourishing in the world of European ‘art house’ cinema but were unseen and unknown by most people who sat around watching television. The United Airlines spot from 1967 uses a song from a lame Jackie Gleason Broadway musical called ‘Take Me Along’ to offer up a smarmy storyline involving a group of male corporate executives leaving on a business trip who make it clear to their wives that they don’t want their company due to the no-doubt blonde and buxom secretarial pool they’ll be hooking up with. (Never have so many lovely wives been married to so many unattractive husbands as in this spot). I’m reading Charles Elton’s excellent Cimino biography as I write this so finding this on YouTube was a terrific companion piece to the section about Cimino’s beginnings.


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