7.9/10
3,856
40 user 42 critic

Salesman (1969)

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.
Reviews

Watch Now

From $3.99 (HD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
4 wins. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Grey Gardens (1975)
Documentary | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton.

Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale, Brooks Hyers
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A filmed account of a bitterly violent miner strike.

Director: Barbara Kopple
Stars: Norman Yarborough, Houston Elmore, Phil Sparks
Gimme Shelter (1970)
Documentary | Music | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A harrowing documentary of the Stones' 1969 tour, with much of the focus on the tragic concert at Altamont.

Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Real-life individuals discuss topics on society, happiness in the working class among others and with those testimonies the filmmakers create fictional moments based on their interviews. ... See full summary »

Directors: Edgar Morin, Jean Rouch
Stars: Angelo, Nadine Ballot, Régis Debray
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside the Massachusetts Correctional Institution Bridgewater where people stay trapped in their madness.

Director: Frederick Wiseman
Documentary | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Documentary covering Bob Dylan's 1965 tour of England, which includes appearances by Joan Baez and Donovan.

Director: D.A. Pennebaker
Stars: Bob Dylan, Albert Grossman, Bob Neuwirth
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In this silent predecessor to the modern documentary, film-maker Robert J. Flaherty spends one year following the lives of Nanook and his family, Inuits living in the Arctic Circle.

Director: Robert J. Flaherty
Stars: Allakariallak, Nyla, Cunayou
Primary (1960)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Cinéma vérité feature that follows presidential hopefuls John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey during the 1960 Wisconsin primary.

Director: Robert Drew
Stars: Robert Drew, Hubert H. Humphrey, Muriel Buck Humphrey
The War Room (1993)
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A documentary of the Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign and the organization who ran it.

Directors: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker
Stars: James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, Heather Beckel
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Spalding Gray discusses his participation in the film The Killing Fields (1984) and the background story about the troubles of Cambodia.

Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Spalding Gray, Sam Waterston, Ira Wheeler
Documentary | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A documentary about a pet cemetery in California, and the people who have pets buried there.

Director: Errol Morris
Stars: Lucille Billingsley, Zella Graham, Cal Harberts
High School (1969)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman takes us inside Northeast High School as a fly on the wall to observe the teachers and how they interact with the students.

Director: Frederick Wiseman
Edit

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
Edit

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 | Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 April 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Caixeiro-Viajante  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$105,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The boxing match that is playing in the motel room is the middleweight heavy weight championship between Nino Benvenuti and Emile Griffith. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Documentary Now!: Globesman (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Could have been more then but the cold look at the sales business, the sellers and the potential buyers is well done and makes for engaging if rather downbeat entertainment
24 August 2006 | by See all my reviews

Paul Brennan is "The Badger". Charles McDevitt is "The Gipper". James Baker is "The Rabbit" and Raymond Martos is "The Bull". However this is not yet another British gangster film from Guy Ritchie but rather a fly-on-the-wall documentary following these four door-to-door bible salesman as they go about their trade and shoot the breeze with one another. Selling for as much as $40 per ornate book, the target audience are mostly poor catholic families who are given a hard sell before being offered a range of payment methods. In the middle of a sales slum, we follow Paul Brennan as he tries to break his losing streak.

Probably the worst job I have done wasn't that bad but was when I was a cleaner 7 mornings a week while also going through university. It felt worse because I also worked weekend evenings in a bar. However I would happily do either of those again if the only other option open to me was telephone or door-to-door sales because to me it is a soul-destroying job. I know some people can excel at it but others scrape by on their commissions, trying to force products onto others that they wouldn't buy themselves. This documentary confirms my thoughts on the job as we follow Paul Brennan on sales calls, conferences and sales meetings. Those familiar with Glengary Glenross will know where they are already and personally I kept seeing Brennan as the Gill character from the Simpsons, frantically just trying to get by. The film doesn't provide much more insight than that because it is very much a fly-on-the-wall affair that lets the characters speak for themselves.

By doing this it lays bare the approach of the sales game. It is depressing for several reasons and it made me feel sympathy for Brennan as often as I felt repulsed by him. He doesn't care about those he is selling to and he lies, applies pressure and guilts his marks into buying something they don't need and often don't actually want. But it is easy to feel for him because he is doing a job. I have never had someone coming door-to-door astonish me with a service or product that I suddenly wanted, especially nowadays, if you want it and can afford it, you probably already have it, but the sales staff still need to sell and Brennan's way is the most basic approach. The Maysles brothers wisely stay out of the way and I was quite amazed at how unobtrusive their camera was even when the sales were in relatively confined rooms.

Overall this is a rather depressing film that could have had more in the way of insight but does well to stand back and just observe. Modern documentaries often lose that so in a way it was refreshing not to have talking heads throughout the footage. Could have been more then but the cold look at the sales business, the sellers and the potential buyers is well done and makes for engaging if rather downbeat entertainment.


12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 40 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Kevin Smith's Top 3 Sundance Movies in 90 Seconds

Kevin Smith reveals his favorite Sundance movies of all time. Plus, La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz shares some "secret" information about his new spy-thriller series, "Counterpart."

Watch now