on November 14, 1999
This is perhaps the most well written movie of our time.If you are looking for explosions and car chases,please move on.The dialogue(David Mamet)is scintillating,the interaction of the characters is intriguing.The editing is quick,the cinemetography superb.The cast is phenomanal.Al Pacino(Ricky Roma):the quintessential swarthy,bottom feeding salesman...Jack Lemmon(Shelly Levine):The has been,looking for any angle to snap out of his sales malaise;the pathos conveyed by Lemmon is gutwrenching...Ed Harris(Dave Moss):The scheming,conniving loser;he will go to any lengths to move ahead...Alan Arkin(George Aranov)The mousy under achiever;easily swayed.His understated lack of direction is carried off with deft subtlety by Arkin.Kevin Spacey(John Williamson)The clueless office manager,and whipping boy.Spacey manages to give this role a sinister undercurrent.He ends up as quite the paradox...Alec Baldwin turns up for ten of the most memorable minutes ever filmed.This role is the highlight of his underwhelming career.Arrogance oozes from his every word;contempt permeates his every sentence.Expertly directed by James Foley,this is 36 hrs.in the lives of men desperate;on the edge.The world of real estate sales will never be the same after you see this classic.An extremely cerebral flick,not meant for those with short attention spans.A gauranteed can't miss movie experience.
on December 19, 2002
Welcome to the world of real estate, where the golden rule always is "A.B.C." Always Be Closing. This means, lie, cheat, steal, whatever. As long as you get a signature on the dotted line, nothing else matters. And times aren't the greatest for the salesmen at Premiere Properties. None of them are getting the good leads that they need in order to close. And if they don't start closing soon, they're going to find themselves out of the job. There are the "Glengarry" leads, but they're reserved for closers only. And this heated-up and emotional drama gets even more deeper when it turns out that the next day the office was broken into and the Glengarry leads were stolen. In a business where lying, cheating, and stealing all are in a day's work, everyone is suspect.
I cannot believe I had never heard of "Glengarry Glen Ross" until recently. As soon as I popped the DVD in, I fell in love with it immediately. It is so well written and well acted that you can't do nothing but watch in awe. And then, you want to watch it again and again. I have just purchased this movie a couple of weeks ago, and I know my viewings of the film are already in the double digits. This is a movie you can really watch whenever you want. You don't need to be in a certain mood to enjoy it.
The cast is sensational. You've got Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, and Alec Baldwin. Pacino is great as always and really steals the show during the second act of the film. Your eyes never leave him for a second. Jack Lemmon was also so terrific in it, and it's heartbreaking that he didn't win an Oscar. Everybody else did great in their roles as well.
What I liked about this movie most was the realistic dialogue. People may think that there's a lot of profanities in this film, but this is the real world. People talk like this, especially in the business world. David Mamet did a spectacular job in writing it. I look forward to reading the play. I love it when the story mainly focuses on the characters than on plot.
The DVD is also very good, but not special. But alas, isn't that what it says on the cover? "Special Edition." While there are quite a few extras, it's still nowhere near "special." "Requiem for a Dream" had more extras, and it wasn't even a Special Edition DVD. I know people were let down by this and I can see why. Personally, I didn't have a real problem since I hadn't seen the movie before buying the DVD. I was satisfied, but I clearly understand how others were not.You get the choice of either watching a widescreen version or a full screen version. You also get the choice of watching it in DTS, which is always a nice thing. The picture and sound quality is really great. Some of the extras are a documentary, a tribute to Jack Lemmon, new interviews, commentary, production notes, and cast and crew biographies. Aren't those a couple of features? Yes, but nothing I'd consider "special." For a two disk set, I was expecting more. However, I'm not that let down.
"Glengarry Glen Ross" is a fabulous film that had me hooked from the very beginning. It is now one of my favorites. If you love a good drama where the main focus is on the characters themselves, then this is the movie for you. The only flaw is the lack of special features, but that's no fault of the film itself. Welcome to Real World 101. It's a jungle out there. You think you've got what it takes to close the deal? "You call yourself a salesman, you son-of-a-(bleep)?" Maybe you are... and maybe you're not.
on May 17, 2005
The other day I was discussing salespeople with a friend and we determined that nobody likes being sold anything. Coincidental, then, that I saw Glengarry Glen Ross that night, as the film seems to support our hypothesis, but it adds another dimension to it: the salespeople themselves may not necessarily even like selling anything. In fact, the men in this movie are selling for survival; if they don't sell, they don't eat.
Near the beginning of the film, a man from the downtown office (Alec Baldwin) offers encouragement to three salesmen who aren't meeting their quotas by way of verbal abuse. First prize is a brand new Cadillac, second prize is a set of steak knives, and third prize is the door: you're fired. The men are selling real estate, using the weak leads handed down to them from above. There is Shelley Levene (Jack Lemmon), nicknamed The Machine for his past sales record, who has hit a wall in his career and can't seem to close any more sales. He desperately needs to keep his job to pay medical bills for his wife. Dave Moss (Ed Harris) is fed up with all of the bureaucracy, and doesn't feel people should be treated this way--and they shouldn't. George Aaronow (Alan Arkin) isn't the sharpest tool in the drawer, and tends to be swayed by his colleagues.
All three of these men are jealous of the only guy making any sales lately, Ricky Roma (Al Pacino). Dave is convinced that the rest of them would be doing just as well if they were getting the good leads that he is, but according to their by-the-book company-pleasing manager John Williamson (Kevin Spacey), only closers are worthy of the good leads--the Glengarry leads. Dave comes up with a plan to break into the office, steal the leads, and sell them to the competitor across the street, and tries to convince George to do the dirty work, and as a reward, he can take a cut of the pay and have a job with the competitor. We don't see the actual robbery, though--only the aftermath--and it's not clear who exactly did what. Everyone's got their motives, but who had the guts to do it?
Glengarry Glen Ross was written by David Mamet based on his stage play of the same name, and it must have been an actor's paradise. There are no special effects, hardly any sets at all, and some fantastic dialogue, which flows with the cadence that only Mamet can produce. Nobody else can write profanity with such poetry. Director James Foley doesn't intrude on his actors, which is the perfect way to deal with this talk-heavy picture. The acting is excellent all around, especially by screen legend Jack Lemmon, though nobody is overshadowed by anybody else.
The only fault I found with the film was the abrupt ending, but to go into any more detail would be a crime against anybody who hasn't seen the film. The subject matter is fascinating, as most of us have only seen salesmen when they're being phonies. Here they are given personalities, and are struggling with not only their jobs, but with their lives, and they live in such a sheltered world that they can't even see the opportunities that might be available outside of this bubble. It's a really foolish idea to steal from the place you have to go to every day, but if you don't know any better, it makes perfect sense.
on November 11, 2002
I have been waiting for Glengarry Glen Ross since I first purchased my DVD player several years ago. This film is easily in my all time top 10. When I heard it was going to be a 2 disc special edition, I figured it would be worth the wait. I managed to get my hands on a copy early and to be honest it is a let down. The widescreen transfer is beautiful but this has to be one of the most empty 2-disc SE's around. The most disappointing missing feature is the commentary that Jack Lemmon did for the SE laserdisc. What better way to preserve his legacy than to include his comments about arguably his finest film performance? Instead, you get a Jack Lemmon "tribute" feature with interviews from his son, Peter Gallagher, and other folks who are mildly ammusing. Another feature is "New Cast Interviews" which is simply Alan Arkin and Alec Baldwin (separately) doing commentary over scenes from the movie. No Pacino, no Ed Harris, no Spacey. They have included a nice Charlie Rose show clip with Lemmon and a very short Spacey clip from "Inside the Actor's Studio". Then you get a non-Glengarry related feature on salesman. Why? You do get a new commentary from the director which is nice, but this was an actor's movie first and foremost. Why Artisan took several years to finally release this on DVD is quite frankly hard to understand with what has been delivered. Mitch and Murray would be very upset with Aristan's effort here. Long live the Machine!
on September 20, 2005
Probably in my all-time Top 10...the only other ensemble film I can think of in the same league is 12 Angry Men. There are lots of similarities: a group of men caught in the same situation, whose starkly distinct personalities expose a cross-section of humanity that is terrifying in its realism. GGR of course has no Henry Fonda as a pillar of justice and reason, nor a Robert Webber/Jack Warden character to ease the tension. It is not a feel-good movie, and if you're looking for some sort of plot-driven pay-off, you'll be disappointed. The "plot" is inconsequential to the film - the thing could have taken place any day of the week in this office...which gives a viewer with any imagination even more reason to sweat bullets. True, people either love it or hate it.
Jack Lemmon: Bold words to ascribe to a man of his stature and legend, but I think this could be his finest performance. The character is pathetic and reprehensible at the same time...and it appears Lemmon was able to tap into a part of his soul that recognized had his life not gone the way it did, he might very well find himself in this horrific situation. The desperation is, as another reviewer said, very difficult and painful to watch. You see him slipping a few notches in each succeeding scene...a man literally crumbling before your eyes...made worse by the all-too-obvious self-illusion and fantasy that he is operating under: The Machine is on the comeback trail. What makes this performance bearable and wondrous is Lemmon's mastery in making you want to believe in the legend: unfortunately, the dying embers of his former smalltime glory do little to shelter one from the relentless rain that pours down on this movie and on this sad character.
Al Pacino: I have to believe that this is withtout a doubt his greatest role. He was born to play Ricky Roma...it's pure poetry, astounding. His scenes in the restaurant selling the dupe are as good as anything I've ever seen in cinema. Interesting (for me at least) that for all of the huffing and puffing Pacino is known for, it's the sly, whispered, understated dialogue here that leaps off the screen with a deftness of touch that is awe-inspiring. The scene with Lemmon at the office in front of the reluctant client is a delightful master class in portraying deceit (probably the only moment that offers some temporary relief)...and it's so convincing, you want him to prevail. The relationship between he and Lemmon that reveals itself in the last part of the film is heart-wrenching; Lemmon sees what he once was, and what he mistakenly believes he can be again; Pacino demonstrates a half-hearted deference for Old School, and sees what he wants to believe he won't end up as.
Kevin Spacey: Cold and ruthless as they come...as another reviewer pointed out, he only tolerates Pacino's character because he's currently the producer in the office. We all know that situation has to - and will - change. Spacey's skillfully-nuanced relationship with the others immediately establishes the graduated office hierarchy - from Blake and the boys downtown, to the office doormat (Arkin). Spacey's scenes with Lemmon are the most difficult of all to watch, it almost makes me wonder how they did it.
Ed Harris: Dripping with venom, and bringing new meaning to the word "bitter." The kind of guy you feel for on one level, but nontheless despise - until you see him confronted by the likes of Alec Baldwin. This character is the ticking time bomb in the movie, and you cringe to see the influence he's having over Arkin. Their scenes together are fascinating, as you realize neither of them is going to make it. The dialogue between them is brilliant, and the editing enhances the urgency of their predicament.
Alan Arkin: I was so glad to hear his commentary in the Special Features, because his description of the background he invented for his character matched precisely my ideas about the guy. Mealy-mouthed, weak-kneed, and swimming amongst sharks, he'd be the first to die if this were an action flick. Part of what makes his character so compelling is that he reminds us scruples and morality have no place in the seedy business of third-class sales.... It's tough to see someone doing a job that you can tell from a mile away they don't have a prayer at.
Alec Baldwin: Every actor should be so lucky to get 10 minutes like that....an extraordinary opportunity for an extraordinary role amongst the top people in the profession. He was perfectly cast, I can't imagine another actor in this part. This SOB could make ANYONE feel like a complete failure. There is a strong underlying sexuality to the character, and a hypnotic appeal that makes you hate and fear him (of course), but there's more.... he brings out in the viewer a dark side that admires this kind of power and determination - an almost giddy, willing subservience. Part of you actually starts thinking his way: "Yeah, geez, you guys are losers."
Jonathon Pryce: It's a strange sensation rooting against a victim! This guy was a tremendous launching pad for Pacino's character. A brow-beaten, hen-pecked, shadow of a man who has difficulty standing up for himself even when he's right. Lulled and reeled in by the vituoso Roma over drinks, you end up resenting him for spoiling the dream and tarnishing Roma's golden touch. A great and understated performance.
Again, the storyline is almost superfluous IMO. As for the language - it would be odd if the film were not steeped in crude invective, that's how this class of businessman talks; it's absolutely essential to the film.
I really like another reviewer's remarks about the deadly atmosphere generated by characters we never actually see: Mitch and Murray, Jerry Graff, Shelley's daughter in the hospital, Mrs. Lingk, the Nyborgs, etc. They weigh gloomily over the characters, and create a genuine sense of un-ease within the viewer. I've never seen this device used so effectively.
This film is far more disturbing than any conventional violence or horror, because this is the kind of horror that touches many more lives than guns and ghouls. It happens everywhere - grown men grovelling to eke out a meager existence under the thumb of inhuman bosses, and brown-nosed middle-management. As awful as it is to witness, the performances of this stellar cast are so far out of the ballpark, I find myself inexorably riveted to every single word, line, gesture, and facial expression.
This is a monument of horrible beauty, epic in its dissection of a brutal world, and the men that are consumed by it. I'll watch this film for a long time to come. Thank you David Mamet, James Foley, and the aforementioned actors for making this masterpiece.
on April 14, 2005
Glengarry Glenross istantly reminded me of Miller's Death Of A Salesman (for obvious reasons), the comparisons between the Shelley character and Willy Loman are particularly striking.
Glengarry Glenross is more of a snapshot than a composition, there is no engineered changing of mood or pace which would suit most dramas, it ends in a similiar way as it begins and this creates extraordinary realism which is very powerful. The characters are brilliant, the cast exists as one of the finest collection of actors you are ever likely to see in a movie, period. I'm not sure who's performance was best, Lemmon is scintillating as the insecure ageing salesman who's morals are being challenged by economic hardship. Spacey is at his very best as the harried and despised manager at the firm. Pacino probably just steals the show as the firms most successful salesman, the way he manipulates the timid client gives a hint into his dark side, his character is able to bypass any moral questions easily.
It is interesting to think about the film in terms of chronology, Lemon's character was 'once' a succesful salesman but no longer, he is surely what Pacino's character (currently successful) will one day be, Spacey's character only tolerates Pacino's verbal abuse because of Pacino's current success..'you fairy you', in a few years he will get his revenge as he does with Lemmon's character. Meanwhile Pacino's otherwise rough-edged character is strangely gentle and indulgent with Shelley, perhaps he also sees himself in Shelley, twenty years older. The firm itself is a hot stew boiling over, there is constant pressure to perform constantly, and you are only as good as your last deal, is this turning them all into desperate crooks with no moral compass? The constant bickering between the characters betrays their unhappiness, the break-in at the firm betrays their moral decline, one character only (Pacino) seems to be thriving in the pressure cooker atmosphere and then only because of his amorality, the rest of them are unproductive unhappy employees. At one point in the movie an employee complains about how past mismanagement in the company has led to their current unprofitable situation epitomised by his clever line "you dont sell a man one car, you sell him 5 over fifteen years" - ie you dont screw your customer or he wont come back. The ultra-capitalist do-or-die attitude of their bosses is clearly failing on the business side of things as much as it is failing the employees, on a human level.
"they're insane, they just like talking...to salesmen."
on February 18, 2006
David Mamet's play, "Glengarry Glen Ross" is beautifully translated into the silver screen medium. Even though it is a movie, it runs like a play. It uses only two locations. The strength of this film lies with its actors and the dialogue.
Put the talents of Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, and Alec Baldwin, and you can't help but hit the bullseye with this one.
The story takes place in a small real estate office where four men are in the cut-throat business of real estate. The constant pressures of deception, working for and against each other, tells a most provocative story.
Jack Lemmon turns in his most impressive work which is a turn from his usual up-beat comedic characters. As Shelly "the Machine" Levine, he plays the part of a wise-cracking, yet desperate man perfectly. Levine is a man who has been in the game for many years. At one time, his status was almost legendary. Now, he can barely scrape by, and no one cares or remembers his golden years as a top salesmen except for Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) who still holds Levine with the utmost respect.
Al Pacino is equally brilliant as Ricky Roma, the current top dog in the office whose hot streak is still hot, and he knows it. He's sitting on top of the world, and hardly has time or the inclination to hear the grumblings of Dave (Ed Harris) who can't stand him.
Ed Harris plays the part of Dave, a man who no longer gives a damn, and is frankly, fed up with his work situation, and vows to do something about it. He holds contempt for everyone except for George (Alan Arkin) who nods and agrees with everything Dave says like an robot, but hasn't the courage to take the necessary steps to break out.
Kevin Spacey is John Williamson who is the office manager. The man takes more abuse from his team of salesmen than any character I've ever seen, as they hurl one profane word at him after another. He's young and doesn't have the experience or knowledge of Ricky or Levine, but he still holds the power in the office, and in the end, it's all he needs to maintain his status and control.
Alec Baldwin is only in the film for about 5 minutes, but he turns in the best scene in the entire film as he plays Blake, a high-up executive who tells this team of "f**king losers" that he would just as soon fire their asses because "a loser is still a loser." He is on a mission of mercy to tell them about a contest for the top sales man. "First place is a Cadillac. Second place is a set of steak knives. Third place...is the door!" He treats them all with a fierce contempt. He's a power executive, and these "peasants" are literally nothing to him. "I made $900,000 last year. How much did you make?" he sneers at them. "See this watch? This watch costs more than your car!" Even Levine fails to impress him.
The dialogue in this film is so good, that you just sit and marvel at the performances. Word has it that during their off-days, the actors would come to the set to watch each other.
I never get tired of watching this film. It is beautifully made. Despite being laced with nearly 300 expletives, the tone, the energy, and the strength behind this film are so profound that you can't help but be roped into it. There are so many memorable lines, that you will A: always B: be Q: quoting them!
on July 25, 2003
David Mamet's unquestionable masterpiece, Glengarry Glen Ross, was made into perhaps one of the best dramas of the early 90's. It stands as having some of the best dialogue of any movie I have ever seen, and definitely one of the best cast ensembles as well. This is one DVD release I couldn't wait to get my hands on.
In the shady world of real estate sales, good leads (customers) can make or break the salesman. The Glengarry leads (the best available) have arrived at Premier Properties, but with a message that unless sales pick up, they will not be given the prime customers, and consequently be fired. The late Jack Lemmon plays Shelly "The Machine" Levene, a former top closer who is on a bad streak, and Al Pacino delivers a powerhouse performance as Richard Roma, the hotshot of the month. Two others (Ed Harris and Alan Arkin) are equally unahappy with their jobs, and conspire to strike back at the company they work for. The leads are "for closers only", so the pressure mounts on them to perform while their personal lives are in equal turmoil. This is one of the most depressing, but brilliant, stories ever adapted to film.
The quality of the script and the acting speaks for itself. The characters are people who have sold their soul in the pursuit of money, but we are still able to sympathize with them. Lemmon in particular gives one of his grittiest performances as a truly tortured soul who is living under a constant raincloud. Al Pacino is way over the top with his character, with some of the juciest lines. It is easy to see why some people wouldn't like the script (the constant profanity), but the dialogue in this movie is priceless.
The long awaited Special Edition is somewhat hit and miss with the special features. The pieces from "Inside the Actor's Studio" are priceless, the documentary "A.B.C. Always Be Closing", while not overly exciting, is very interesting. Also good is the Tribute to Jack Lemmon, where a handful of actors (including his son Chris) remember Jack Lemmon through anecdotes and other insights into his career and personality. Rather bland, on the other hand, is the comentary by Director James Foley. I was completely tedious at times. Otherwise, this is a quality DVD package. The transfer and the Widescreen presentation far surpass the laserdisc and VHS versions.
There should be a law that states that every film buff should have this movie in their collection. It is that good. Some of the best performances from very distinguised actors and a script that can melt candles...what more could you want?
on May 6, 2005
Okay, as others have said, this is a great flick, and a stunning cast. But I'm not sure there's any such thing as an "actor's movie" as others have said - these guys would be sitting around with nothing to do if not for Mamet's trademark staccato dialogue.
Speaking of which, IMDB notes that the word f*ck and its derivatives are uttered 138 times in the course of this movie... so much, in fact, that during filming the actors referred to the movie as "Death of a F*cking Salesman."
Jack Lemmon was a great actor who tended to get a little over the top at the end of the film - and he doesn't disappoint here, if that's what you're looking for. And Pacino LIVES over the top - this is another one of those films where he treats his performance as if it's a great big freakin' joke, just between him and his audience. But for my money, the standout performance in this film is Kevin Spacey's. His performance is as tightly controlled - perhaps claustrophobic is a better word - in this as in "American Beauty."
Folks who like this movie should check out two of Mamet's best: The Spanish Prisoner and The Winslow Boy (an early 20th century play Mamet adapted for the screen, and directed).
on April 28, 2002
1992 was quite a year. We had Unforgiven, Bram Stoker's Dracula, A Few Good Men, Of Mice and Men (starring Sinise and Malkovitch), the director's cut of Blade Runner, and some other good films such as Sneakers, Raising Cain, and Scent of a Woman. All of them are on DVD except for this film. I really can't add much to the outstanding reviews that are already posted here. This film, among with 12 Angry Men, stands as the best adaptation of a stage play to the big screen. If and when a DVD is released, I hope that it includes the audio commentary recorded by Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon for the special edition Laserdisc release in 1994 (anyone who has that by the way is holding a treasure!). It's only a matter of time before this is released on DVD. This October (2002) is the tenth anniversary, and that would be the perfect time, assuming the legal hurdles have been taken care of. Let's keep our fingers crossed!