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Glengarry Glen Ross

May 20, 2011

847. Glengarry Glen Ross
Directed by James Foley
Written by David Mamet
USA, 1992
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Ally
First viewing


Four real estate salesmen are supplied with contact details (“leads”) of people who are mostly unable or unwilling to invest in land. Company owners Mitch and Murray send sharkish salesman Blake (Alec Baldwin) to give a motivational talk. He informs the men that only the top two earners will be given the more promising Glengarry leads, and that their jobs are in jeopardy.

Blake: We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.

The men are pressurized into using dishonest tactics to close deals and keep their jobs. Shelley Levine (Jack Lemmon), fretting over his poor sales and his sick daughter, attempts to bribe the office manager John Williamson (Kevin Spacey) for better leads. Leading salesman Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) lies to an insecure customer (Jonathan Pryce), hoping to stall him until the cooling-off period is over. Dave Moss (Ed Harris) suggests to George Aaronow (Alan Arkin) that they break into the office, steal the Glengarry leads and sell them to a rival company.


There are several ways in which Glengarry Glen Ross is impressive. Firstly, it is a successful adaptation of a stage play, adding cinematic interest without sacrificing the appeal of the original play. Secondly, just look at that cast list! And thirdly, it made me sympathize with the very people from whom I dread receiving a call.

The salesmen of Glengarry Glen Ross are con men. They try to sell poor-quality land to people who can ill afford it. Those calls you get, “you have been selected for a special prize” — that’s them. This is the new world of sales, created by opportunists like Blake (Alec Baldwin) who destroyed the bond of trust between salesman and customer. You no longer sell a guy “five cars over fifteen years,” you make a fast buck and run. Bastards, right?

And yet, when Shelley Levine (Jack Lemmon) fails to make yet another sale, my heart breaks a little for him; the ending (which would be my “essential scene” but I decided not to spoil it) breaks what’s left of it. In the impressive ensemble cast, Lemmon’s performance stands out as the best of the film, and one of the best of his career.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 20, 2011 9:44 pm

    My third online encounter with this film in the past couple of months. All three have been posts/messages from chaps whose opinion on such things I respect.

    So I guess that means I ought to see this film.

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