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Death of a Salesman (1951)

Willy Loman is an over-the-hill salesman who faces a personal turning point when he loses his job and attempts to make peace with his family: Willy's long-suffering wife Linda, and Biff and Happy, his troubled sons and his life.

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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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Storyline

Willy Loman is an over-the-hill salesman who faces a personal turning point when he loses his job and attempts to make peace with his family: Willy's long-suffering wife Linda, and Biff and Happy, his troubled sons and his life.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One mistake...seen by his sons...unleashes...in the overwhelming power...the greatest drama of our day!

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

9 May 1952 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Der Tod eines Handlungsreisenden  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Arthur Miller, in a 2000 essay entitled, "Are You Now Or Were You Ever?" Columbia asked Miller to sign an anti-Communist declaration to ward off the threat of picket lines by the American Legion at theaters showing "Death of a Salesman". He refused. Instead, Columbia made another movie, a short film entitled "Life of a Salesman" to be shown with it. The short consisted of business professors from City College praising sales as a profession, and denouncing the character of Willy Loman. Miller wrote: "Never in show-business history has a studio spent so much good money to prove that its feature film was pointless." See more »

Quotes

Linda Loman: Attention must finally be paid to such a man. He's not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog.
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Connections

Version of Der Tod des Handlungsreisenden (1958) See more »

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User Reviews

Miller seems to have been pleased
17 August 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In his autobiography, "Timebends," playwright Arthur Miller says he was pleased with this version of "Salesman" and felt that Fredric March was effective as Willy. I would love to make that determination for myself. I have always been a big fan of March, and the rest of the cast all seem ideal choices for their roles. I don't believe it is in TCM's library. I think it deserves a DVD release, as does the 1966 (German?) version of "The Crucible."

I check on the DVD availability of this version of "Salesman" every now and then, as well as the 1949 version of "The Great Gatsby" with Alan Ladd, along with some other films that are (surprisingly) not on DVD, such as "Last Year At Marienbad" and "Sundays and Cybele." Good things come to those who wait.

Indeed, even if you have to wait seven years. The Fredric March version of "Salesman" made its way to YouTube in October, 2014. The print is not very good, but the movie is fine. March is wonderful, even if he does start out the movie at something of a fevered pitch rather than working up to it, as another reviewer says. The two sons, Biff and Happy, are such ne'er do wells and so dishonest that they are thoroughly unsympathetic. Kevin McCarthy and Cameron Mitchell play them to perfection. Mildred Dunnock's Linda may be the best performance in the movie. She mediates, observes, cajoles, admonishes, plays on sympathies, comforts and encourages. It's amazing how many dimensions there really are to this character, and Dunnock finds and plays them all beautifully. "Death of a Salesman" is so stagebound that it's hard to find ways to open it up for the screen, so why bother? The story and performers draw audiences in to "Salesman," and because the subject matter is so unremittingly bleak and despairing, the acting has to be of a very high caliber to sustain interest. This is a feat the 1951 movie version pulls off handsomely.


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