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The post where I try to sell Glengarry Glen Ross

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I must have been about ten years old when I erased “salesman” from my list of potential future professions never to be returned.

Sunday after Sunday I had spent the entire morning knocking the doors in the area where I lived trying to convince my neighbors to buy the morning newspaper. The few that even opened usually blurted out: “Don’t you have [competing newspaper’s name]?” And every Sunday my response was the same: “No, I’m sorry”.

I knew that I was a failure. The leaflets made it clear: good sellers wouldn’t only get a decent pay; they’d also get all sorts of cool things as an added bonus. If I only shaped up, got myself a prettier, more convincing smile, I could get a bicycle! But I never got any further than a small plastic torchlight that broke after first usage.

If there ever was one person unfit to work in trade business that would be me. On the other hand it works in both directions: as bad as I am at selling, as unreceptive am I to any effort to sell me something. I’ll rather flee the shop than talk to someone approaching me offering their help. I’ll snap off sellers on the phone quicker than Mr Miyagi catches a fly.

Given this lack of experience and love for the selling business I was a little surprised that I liked Glengarry Glen Ross as much as I did.

In the Pantheon
It’s a movie that is all about selling, where we get to follow a group of jaded salesmen as they’re trying to sell some more or less useless real-estate. The stakes to succeed are high: the top seller will get a car. The worst one will be fired.

I found it standing in the DVD shelf at my mother’s place and while the cast lineup was impressive enough (Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, all in the same movie – wow!) I was skeptic about the topic. I did recognize the title though. Hadn’t I had it recommended to me somewhere? The Filmspotting podcast perhaps?

It turned out that this was the place. In the next show a week later, they did a top five list of the best adaptations of plays where Glengarry Glen Ross was mentioned but eventually not included in the list. Not because it was bad, on the contrary: it was already in the Pantheon that includes movies that aren’t allowed to be in top lists anymore since they’ve gotten so much love already.

Selling the film
I could see why they’d put it there and now it’s my turn to try to sell it to you so you check it out if you haven’t already. This brings us to one of the many occasions when I regret that I dismissed the value of selling skills so quickly. Instead of quitting my newspaper job after a month or two I could have stayed with it, making an effort to figure out how to persuade people to buy my stuff. But alas – I didn’t. So here I am, looking for words to make it justice.

It’s fun. It’s smart. The screenplay by David Mamet has that classic vibe to it. Can you sense that this is an adaptation of something that had run on Broadway previously? Definitely. But it makes it no less of a movie. The brilliant acting makes you forget how cheap and small it is, taking place in just a couple of rooms and an outdoor setting that feels very much like a studio.

The sellers in the movie won’t hesitate a second to cross an ethical line as long as it can get them closer to what they want: a deal. I disapprove of their methods most vehemently, and I suspect they’re probably a lot closer to reality than we wish they were.

And yet there is something about those sad old guys that makes you like them and wish them luck.

I was entertained for 1 hour 40 minutes. You could be entertained too if you watch Glengarry Glen Ross!

Hm… On second thought I think I need to practice more on this routine.

Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley, US, 1992) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

August 8, 2012 at 10:26 pm