Harry, Harry, Harry…

 Posted by on May 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm  Characters, Mad Men, Season 6
May 092013

The Evolution of Harry Crane, Left: 1960. Right: 1968

I miss the old Harry Crane.  You remember old Harry, the lovable doofus of Sterling Cooper, the office schmoozer who’d screw up his assignments?  Despite his flaws, he had a sweetness and gait about him that reminded me of my late father (Bill), right down to the horn-rimmed glasses and white short sleeved shirts.  Yet Harry wasn’t the sweet softie I thought he was. I allowed nostalgia and his physical appearance let me tolerate the character’s occasional lapses into misjudgment. In time I realized that Harry was like my Dad in appearance only, not substance.

For the first few seasons, Harry Crane was the sad sack sort of a guy who was never taken too seriously, with clumsy social skills. But in re-watching early episodes, one can see that he’s really always been a bit of a jerk, and his astonishing physical changes of late have been overshadowed only by his sharper, meaner, attitude. He’s always been sexist, just not as open about it, and since he’s become a successful in-between to Hollywood for SCDP, he’s gone from punching bag to one of the douche variety.

This is all in no small way due to the wonderful acting by Rich Sommer, who gives Harry a nasty bend that one would never have suspected in first couple of seasons.  As you may recall, this is the meek guy who once donned a baby bonnet and  explained to Pete about “enjoying female companionship in the confines of marriage”. That Harry is long gone, for he is now as loud and obnoxious as his increasing wardrobe of polyester jackets.  Maybe it’s Hollywood, or his frustration over Joan being a partner, but for better or worse, Harry is now a man who will not be ignored.

Of course, Harry wasn’t completely innocent in Season 1.  He proudly boasted of being among “The greatest ad men in New York City”, and slept with chilly Hildy.  But Season 6’s Harry would neither disclose his affairs to Jennifer, nor apologize for it.  I’m not saying that change is bad, but I just miss the sweeter side of Harry.  The last thing remotely sympathetic Harry said last season was “My father was a bus driver; the only place he could take us was to the moon.” (A Honeymooners reference and another TV character my Dad resembled) Yet despite his total jerkitude of late, I still have hope that somewhere under that bluster there is still a caring, nicer man than he might still be.   After all, he did save Paul from being totally absorbed into the Krishna movement.  For all we know, thanks to Harry, Paul is now writing for the last season of Lost in Space and praising “Harry Krishna!”   I hope so.

Addendum:  May 6,   After watching last night’s phenomenal For Immediate Release, I have to add some thoughts.  Harry wasn’t in this episode AT ALL, and you just know that he’ll be seething when he finds out that SCDP has merged with CDC, adding more people to the partnership who are NOT him! There’s a volcano brewing here, and Harry is definitely going to blow.   I see two outcomes, either

A: Harry goes insane and actually attempts physical violence (maybe with Pete’s gun) with his outrage,


B: Chaugh and associates find value in Harry’s TV department and sent him to California for good.

We’ll just have to stay tuned.



  37 Responses to “Harry, Harry, Harry…”

  1. In the same conversation you referred to where Harry talked about “enjoying female companionship in the confines of marriage” he also referred to his marriage as “Two very happy years” what went wrong? There was his one-nighter with Hildy which it seemed he managed to reconcile with Jennifer over…then what went wrong? I would like to see Harry talk about his children again, there was a bit of sweetness when he talked to Paul about Bea and he’s been a jerk since then.

  2. I know what you mean. If I had to summarize him, I’d say “old” Harry was more passive and “new” 1968 Harry is much more open about displaying his moods and emotions.

    Harry, Pete, and Paul have all often displayed a jealous side (usually jealous of Ken). Harry opened Ken’s paycheck in Season 1 (or was it Season 2?) and was dismayed to find out that Ken made more money than him. He rather ineffectively asked Roger for a raise, and agreed to a really minimal one (showing poor negotiation skills). Very different from the recent Harry who stormed into an office and demanded a partnership.

    And you’re right, early Harry seemed to show more of a conscience when it to marriage. He did tell Pete that mild flirting with women was okay but if you were married that was all you should do. When he goofed up and slept with Hildy, he showed some remorse about it. Nowadays he doesn’t seem to care about his marriage at all.

    As for as the impending merger with CGC, I think it’s quite possible that this could be the straw that brings Harry to his boiling point and leads him to quit.

    • I think men of that era equate success with having more access to women, a la Don and Roger — or that their success removes any guilt about it.

      • Excellent point. Harry probably feels like he has attained a level of success at which this attitude towards women is something he’s entitled to. Remember when he gave Don that swagger stick for his birthday? He feels like he’s in the club.

        I would be very surprised if they dismissed Harry from the show now. That explosive confrontation with Joan seems like a sign of worse to come. Thing is, he doesn’t have the patience to negotiate for what he wants — he just threatens, bullies, and makes noise until he’s placated.

  3. i imagine its partly the feeling that his marriage and career have left him behind while everyone else moved on. Jennifer has the family, who ‘eat first’ and his career has seen everyone around him promoted, except for ken who is either non-plussed about the stall, or is building a life-raft as a writer anyway.

    I think harry’s change comes from the fact that he’s not going anywhere and he’s just venting at everyone else. him pete, paul and ken used to all be equals. I think harry’s life is going the way of pete’s, where even if you get the office, you’lll never run the place because no one will like you.

    • In this regard, Harry is very much like how Don portrayed Dow’s executives view of happiness and success ( you can’t be satisfied/you just want more).

  4. I believe the millieu that Harry deals in, Hollywood/Show Business, has made him what he is in 1968. He’s seen what one must do to get what they want and ahead in that shark tank. The tsuris that Lucy and Desi can cause will effect a man.

    • . “You know, a dozen press agents working overtime can do terrible things to the human spirit.”

      Cecil B. DeMille (well, actually, Billy Wilder), Sunset Boulevard

  5. I could picture them sending Harry to California, but he would have to appear every now and then, even if it’s a phone call.

  6. Rampant speculation/

    Given the state he’s going to be in when he finds out about the merger: What do you think Harry would do with the Dick Whitman story? Because Pete is going to make sure everybody knows.


    • Speculation addition/

      Ooh…and I always thought that if Pete were to hold that over Don’s head (again), Peggy could push back with the threat of sharing their little secret (child) with Trudy.

      /over and out

      • So for this to happen, (and I’m not saying it can’t/won’t) Pete and Harry would both have to be working late at the office, and upset with Don. If he gets drunk enough, Pete would reveal the Dick Whitman story to Harry. Pete and Harry threaten to reveal the information unless thier demands are met. @Paisley-the problem is that Pete and Trudy are already seperated, headed for divorce. Peggy’s threat is empty/useless.

        • I thought the same thing re: Peggy’s secret being useless since Pete already “pushed the button.” But, Trudy could stand to gain from evidence of his adultery, especially if the NY divorce laws had not changed by that point. I’ll bet that Papa Vogel will make sure that Trudy has the best divorce attorney in town.

          • There’s no question Mr. Vogel would make sure Truday had the best divorce attorney, but she already has the evidence, doesn’t she? Divorce cases rarely go to trial, but if it did, all the lawyer would have to do is put Pete on the stand. He’d be under oath. Her lawyer would ask Pete if he’d ever had an affair while married. He would have to answer yes. Maybe the part I’m missing is, for the purposes of divorce law, what counts as proof? Or maybe more to the point, what counted as proof in 1968.

          • This is actually a reply to RetroGirl. You have a quaint, old-fashioned idea of how testifying in court works. People lie under oath all the time. I am an attorney saying this. In a divorce situaton, with no proof of something, many, many people lie.

          • Pete would definitely, and blithely, lie under oath.

        • I can’t believe that Pete in the zenith red hot peak of anger at Don for screwing him out of millions by firing Jaguar didn’t blurt our “You’re a Dick…. Whitman” – “a big fraud” or some other verbal jab mentioning his identity to inflect some pain on Don. Why hold back and not jab him a bit, it’s not like it isn’t in Pete’s nature?

          • Because that is not the way Matthew Weiner wrote the script for “For Immediate Release”.

          • I think that Pete does know that telling the truth about Don would backfire on the company, or possibly he does feel some personal loyalty to Don. He was willing to throw away the opportunity with Grumming (?) that would have required a background check on all the company executives, including Don.

            Whatever the reason, he’s kept his mouth shut before.

          • Ummm Pete ALREADY told Bert folks. And remember there was more “profit” in forgetting about it. I’m sure Bert told Roger at some point…the whole issue with the contract needing to be signed after the PPL acquisition.

          • Caroll —

            “Because that is not the way Matthew Weiner wrote the script for “For Immediate Release”. Thanks for the insight – that did not occur to me.

            For anyone else who enjoys speculating. Pete does not have to spill the entire beans in outing Don, that would hurt his bottom line. A smarmy way to ruffle Don’s feathers or to upset him rather than Pete’s dated Hardy Boy insults would be to needle him by calling him “Dick” or make references to his hidden past. Not saying it would be right or productive but it would be in Pete’s vengeful character. I enjoy when Pete, in a rage, uses formal insults. It shows how calculating he is as well as his upper class upbringing. I on the other hand will just say “No Duhhh” to Caroll’s comment.

        • The things I imagine are going to happen on this show rarely work out that way, so ordinarily I don’t even bother trying to predict, but at this point in the story it’s hard to resist playing “what if” … so …

          Mad Men could really turn into M. A. D. men at this point. Pete tends to run his mouth impulsively when he’s enraged, so he’s likely to tip off some people. What if the people he announces to were only people who were likely to be in the board room (Harry, Peggy, Roger, Don, Joan, Bert, the Chaough people). Maybe he does it because it’s his way of starting a self-destruct sequence; he’s already lost everything that he cares about and may think all he has left is the potential to bring Don down along with him. But maybe Don uses a strategic construction of the business to help convince them all — Pete and Harry in particular — that this information, if it got out, would bring down the whole company. Not just Don: all of them. It would be Don’s job to convince them that if they brought him down, it would torpedo the whole business, in which they would have both a financial and personal stake. A name on the shingle could help cement their faith in what they can achieve if they know when to keep their mouths shut.

          Yes, Bert already knows, and cares not in the slightest. That doesn’t mean the information couldn’t be used to damage Don’s reputation, or that he is ready for the information to get out — remember when Don thought he had G men on his case in season 4?

          I don’t think we’re to expect that Bert has confided this information in Roger. Bert thinks Roger is childish, for one thing, and if Bert had let it slip, wouldn’t Roger, as a veteran, a chatterbox, and a complicated friend to Don, have let on by now?

          Getting back to Harry. The sense that he is one of the big boys is clearly a big motivator for him, so the right kind of ego stroking could go a long way. He uses information rashly and vindictively, like Pete, so maybe both will get some substantial incentives to convince them that this information is their personal guarantee against mutual assured destruction.

          (But what about Bob?)

    • Give the story line to Paul and collaborate on a great T.V. series about a successful man leading a double life.

  7. I always wondered why Harry stays at SCDP. Working in television and having so many Hollywood connections, it would be easy for him to jump ship any time. I think he wants his family to stay in New York so he can have play time when he goes to California on business.

    Speaking of, I wonder how the plans for “Broadway Joe on Broadway” are coming. As Scarlet said, “Harry always has the best ideas!”

    • You have no idea how badly I want “Broadway Joe on Broadway” to exist. It seems like the kind of thing that would incredibly fun to watch.

  8. Maybe Harry will finally jump out of a (is it 16th or 17th floor?) window–as I seem to recall from a long ago MW interview, that he was considering that story arc in S1 for Harry after his Hildy fling. I could be wrong about that…

    Hope not. Would hate to lose the character.

    • In a great ( typical MW) foreshadowing, Harry does jump out the window , falling onto several Y & R
      ad men on the sidewalk below.

  9. In a nutshell, I think Harry craves youth. He loves his kids but he misses being young and he craves younger women. Like they say in Moonstruck, because he fears death.

  10. Harry used to be my favorite male character, but when you re-watch you see that he was bit of a jerk even then. “My Little Blowfish” to “Eat first!”

  11. Harry has grown a pair over the years. Good for him. That schmo from S1, didn’t seem capable of putting on identical socks.
    The Harry character has run its course. What else can he contribute to the storyline? More sparse work from the chorus?

    • Harry provides a connection to the world of entertainment. There is potential for storylines there.

  12. Don’s utter disdain of Harry represents some of the finest humor in the show. Right down to the “dynamite” veal parm!

  13. I miss the old Harry of the early years. He often seemed like one of the more moral and standup men at the agency. He was someone who cared about his partner, wanted to do the right thing – he wasn’t as much of a jerk. lol

  14. Remember the advice Mrs Barret gave Peggy back in season 2? Something about “inventing a job and becoming the person who does it”. Harry did that, at least within his world, he did that.

  15. CGC probably had its own media department, with a TV department, and therefore, they have a Harry of their own. Maybe more than one. I don’t know what would be funnier, a CGC head of media who was Harry’s polar opposite, or someone so much like him that it drives him up the wall.

    The big difference between Old Harry and New Harry is that New Harry tries much too hard to be hip and cool and bad-ass, and just looks completely silly doing it. He wants the Bob Rafelson/Bert Schneider type of bad-boy TV/movie producers to think he’s one of them, and he’s so not. They probably burst into horselaughs the minute he leaves the room.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.