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Salesman (1968)

G  |   |  Documentary  |  1968 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 3,171 users  
Reviews: 37 user | 36 critic

Four relentless door-to-door salesmen deal with constant rejection, homesickness and inevitable burnout as they go across the country selling very expensive bibles to low-income Catholic families.

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Title: Salesman (1968)

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Cast

Credited cast:
Paul Brennan ...
Himself - 'The Badger'
Charles McDevitt ...
Himself - 'The Gipper'
James Baker ...
Himself - 'The Rabbit'
Raymond Martos ...
Himself - 'The Bull'
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Melbourne I. Feltman
Margaret McCarron
Kennie Turner
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Storyline

Filmmakers (and brothers) Albert and David Maysles follow four employees of a company that makes expensive, ornate, illustrated bibles as they attempt to sell the items door-to-door to less-than-interested customers, who are mainly poor or lower-middle-class Catholics with little money to spend on pretty Bibles. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Caixeiro-Viajante  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$105,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente)

Sound Mix:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1992. See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinéma Vérité: Defining the Moment (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

If I Were a Rich Man
(uncredited)
Written by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock
Portion sung by Paul Brennan
See more »

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User Reviews

Essential
30 April 2008 | by (prejudicemadeplausible.wordpress.com) – See all my reviews

"Salesman" isn't quite the Maysles Bros.' (and Charlotte Zwerin's) crowning achievement, although it comes close. I personally feel that "Gimme Shelter" is their best film, but that might have something to do with it being a more enjoyable, if still harrowing film. "Salesman" is an uncomfortable examination of human emotions, and provokes a strong reaction of guilt and sympathy. Some may insist that a documentary has to be somewhat relevant to have any real value, but "Salesman", a film on the lives of door-to-door salesmen, the product of a mostly by-gone era, is pure contradiction of this claim.

A landmark 'cinema verite' film, "Salesman" does not feature any sort of narration or writing, allowing the viewer to take the images presented in the film and interpret them as they wish. There are statements that the Maysles Bros. are probably trying to make with this film, statements about suburbia, statements about the ties between business and organized religion, and more, but the beauty of the film is that it is up to you if you see this in the film or not, because really it is simply a document of an average day for a salesman at the time.

"Salesman" is funny in parts, but taken as a whole it is one of the saddest films you will ever see, a document of the quiet desperation of this lifestyle. The directors of the film make powerful statements, but do so subtly, almost unobtrusively, allowing the viewer to fully engage themselves in the almost routine feel of the film. It is a crime that, despite its strong reputation, relatively few people have seen this essential film from possibly the very best documentary filmmakers there have ever been.

10/10


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