January 23, 2005

Glengarry Glen Ross

Lobo Theater, Albuquerque NM. I first saw this film on the big screen there, must've been 1992 since that's when the film came out. At the time this was my first experience with David Mamet's writing, his characteristic intense dialogs, and usually flaky endings.

Seeing it again last night on IFC was interesting in that my impression was almost exactly that of the first time I saw it. I still think the film is very compelling with hotly intense dialogs, but a pretty flaky ending. Not to mention some very over-the-top great acting performances. Jack Lemmon's is the best in my opinion. Pacino kind of out-Pacinoed himself here I thought. Al's best scene was where he very artistically drew the prospect in at the bar. You didn't even know that's what he was doing until he pulled out the brochure for the land.

The other guys in the film do very well with their characters. Arkin, Spacey, Ed Harris. I hate to admit it because I don't like him, but Alec Baldwin's opening soliloquy scene is pretty good too.

What makes this one of Mamet's better works, is the fact that there are no women in the story. He's been condemned as a chauvinist, which he probably is, but these criticisms come from the fact that he just doesn't write about female characters very well. He sees them in a rather limited way. But I digress.

For those who are unfamiliar: This is the story of a real estate office, the pressure these men are under to sell land, and what they will resort to, to get that sale, and/or keep that sale.

(I wonder how much Mamet actually researched how sales groups like this one work. I don't think they are limited to little address cards filled out by people who might or might not be interested.)

Glengarry Glen Ross is mainly composed of a series of one-on-ones between various pairings of the salesmen. Harris' speeches are quite intense since he is so pissed off about not getting the good leads. What I said about Pacino's performance notwithstanding, there is another wonderful interplay between him and Jack Lemmon and their play off of a mark who is trying to kick out on a deal. A rare opportunity to see these two great actors in the same scene.

This drama shows that the salesmen are not just money-motivated. Pride and the spirit of competition play perhaps larger roles in their motivation. Each salesman is his own story. If anything, there are too many good characters here. There really isn't room for them all. I wanted more about Alan Arkin's guy, and especially Kevin Spacey's office manager. What was behind his inadequacies? How come he wasn't out selling?

Here are some interesting facts regarding this movie, found at IMDB:

  • The word "fuck" and its derivatives are uttered 138 times.
  • The word "shit" and its derivatives are uttered 50 times.
  • Co-star Jack Lemmon said the cast was the greatest acting ensemble he had ever been part of.

Posted by Wayne at January 23, 2005 01:30 PM
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