IMDb > Death of a Salesman (1985) (TV)
Death of a Salesman
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Death of a Salesman (1985) (TV) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
7.3/10   6,596 votes »
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Up 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Writers:
Arthur Miller (teleplay)
Arthur Miller (play)
Contact:
View company contact information for Death of a Salesman on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
16 August 1985 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Its passion cannot be overstated. Its power must not be overlooked.
Plot:
An aging traveling salesman recognizes the emptiness of his life and tries to fix it. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Won Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 11 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(345 articles)
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User Reviews:
Old-Fashioned but Nevertheless Excellent See more (47 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Dustin Hoffman ... Willy Loman

Kate Reid ... Linda Loman

John Malkovich ... Biff

Stephen Lang ... Happy

Charles Durning ... Charley

Louis Zorich ... Ben
David S. Chandler ... Bernard

Jon Polito ... Howard

Kathryn Rossetter ... Woman from Boston (as Kathy Rossetter)
Tom Signorelli ... Stanley

Linda Kozlowski ... Miss Forsythe
Karen Needle ... Letta
Anne McIntosh ... Jenny
Michael Quinlan ... Waiter
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Directed by
Volker Schlöndorff  (as Volker Schlondorff)
 
Writing credits
Arthur Miller (teleplay)

Arthur Miller (play)

Produced by
Robert F. Colesberry .... producer
Michael Nozik .... associate producer
Nellie Nugiel .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
Alex North 
 
Cinematography by
Michael Ballhaus 
 
Film Editing by
Mark Burns 
David Ray 
 
Production Design by
Tony Walton 
 
Art Direction by
John Kasarda 
 
Set Decoration by
Robert J. Franco 
 
Costume Design by
Ruth Morley 
 
Makeup Department
Ann Belsky .... makeup designer: Dustin Hoffman
Alan D'Angerio .... hair designer
Victor DeNicola .... hair stylist (as Victor De Nicola Jr.)
Robert Laden .... makeup artist: Dustin Hoffman (as Bob Laden)
Rita Ogden .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Michael Nozik .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ann Egbert .... second assistant director (as Ann B. Egbert)
Joseph P. Reidy .... first assistant director (as Joseph Reidy)
Tomaz Remec .... dga trainee
 
Art Department
Tommy Allen .... property master (as Tom Allen)
Charles Cecil .... set builder
Ann Edgeworth .... inside property assistant (as Ann L. Edgeworth)
W. Steven Graham .... assistant art director
Stephen J. Lineweaver .... head set dresser
Anamarie Michnevich .... set dresser
Joseph Petruccio Sr. .... construction coordinator
Richard A. Ventre .... master scenic artist
 
Sound Department
Harriet Fidlow .... sound editor: Hastings Sound Editorial, Inc.
Tom Fleischman .... sound re-recording mixer
David Grossack .... sound apprentice: Hastings Sound Editorial, Inc.
Danny Michael .... production sound mixer
Abe Nejad .... assistant sound editor: Hastings Sound Editorial, Inc.
Brenda Ray .... additional boom operator
Dan Sable .... sound editor: Hastings Sound Editorial, Inc.
Lynn Sable .... assistant sound editor: Hastings Sound Editorial, Inc.
Elizabeth Schwartz .... assistant sound editor: Hastings Sound Editorial, Inc.
Jess Soraci .... sound editor: Hastings Sound Editorial, Inc.
Marc-Jon Sullivan .... boom operator (as Marc Jon Sullivan)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Florian Ballhaus .... second assistant camera
Arthur Blum .... dolly grip
Stefan Czapsky .... electric supervisor
Stefan Czapsky .... grip
James Donahue .... electrician
David M. Dunlap .... focus puller
Anthony Dunne .... grip
Morris Flam .... gaffer
Michael Levine .... camera operator
Dennis J. Lootens .... grip
Charlie Marroquin .... grip
Michael Papadapolous .... electrician (as Michael Papadopoulos)
Susan Starr .... second assistant camera
Allen Stillman .... grip
Michael Trim .... best boy
Barry Wetcher .... still photographer
 
Casting Department
Todd Thaler .... extras casting (as Todd Michael Thaler)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Taylor Kincaid Cheek .... wardrobe supervisor
Sharon Lynch .... wardrobe assistant
 
Editorial Department
Jon Neuburger .... assistant editor (as Jon Neuberger)
Judy Silberstein .... assistant editor
 
Music Department
Thomas A. Carlson .... assistant music editor (as Tom Carlson)
Fred Steiner .... orchestrator
Dan Wallin .... music mixer: Record Plant Scoring
Kenneth Wannberg .... music editor
 
Transportation Department
Thomas Reilly .... transportation coordinator
 
Other crew
Judith Lyn Brown .... assistant: producer
Joe Caroff .... title designer
Terry Fred Cassidy .... production assistant
Susan Gammie .... assistant: Ms. Morley
Shelley Houis .... production office coordinator
Anna Graham Hunter .... intern
Mary A. Kelly .... continuity
Thomas A. Kelly .... technical staging consultant
Robert Mullis .... assistant: Ms. Reid
Nellie Nugiel .... production accountant
Franke Piazza .... assistant: Mr. Hoffman
Dale Pierce-Johnson .... office assistant
Sharret Rose .... assistant production accountant
Michael Rudman .... stager: Broadway production
David Sardi .... production assistant
Noel Tirsch .... intern
Aaron D. Weisblatt .... picture apprentice
Gilbert S. Williams .... production assistant: studio (as Gilbert Williams)
Laura Zaccaro .... intern
Robert Whitehead .... producer: original stage production (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
136 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Sound Mix:
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Arthur Miller always pictured Willy Loman as a short, weak man with a booming voice. After nearly 40 years Miller finally got his wish after casting Dustin Hoffman.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Willy is talking to himself, drinking milk, the level of milk changes in his glass before he takes a drink.See more »
Quotes:
Linda Loman:[to Willy's grave] Willy, dear, I can't cry. Why did you do it? I search and search and I search, and I can't understand it, Willy. I made the last payment on the house today. Today, dear. And there'll be nobody home.
[a sob rises in her throat]
Linda Loman:We're free and clear.
[sobs]
Linda Loman:We're free.
See more »
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FAQ

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
Old-Fashioned but Nevertheless Excellent, 16 September 2005
Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England

The salesman of the title is Willy Loman, a man in his early sixties, approaching retirement. Despite his long service, travelling from his New York base all over New England in the service of his employers, he has never enjoyed great success in his job. He is in financial difficulties, struggling to pay the mortgage on his house and the instalments on the consumer goods- refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, car- which were becoming popular in the forties but which represented a major commitment, even in middle class households. In order to make ends meet, he has taken to borrowing from his old friend Charlie.

His sense of failure, however, does not derive solely from his unsuccessful career. He also sees himself as having failed in his private life. Although his marriage to his loyal wife Linda has survived, despite the fact that he has on occasions been unfaithful to her, his relationships with his two sons are strained. Biff, the elder, showed promise when young in both the academic and sporting fields, but failed to win a place at university after failing a maths exam at school, and since has become a rootless drifter, alternating between dead-end jobs and petty crime. Biff has been particularly alienated from his father since discovering one of Willy's affairs. Happy, the younger, has been more successful than Biff in his career, but in his private life is a selfish, cynical womaniser.

Willy is much given to violent mood swings, alternating between exuberant over-optimism and despairing pessimism. The younger Willy's optimism was largely focused on his own career, believing that he had a talent for making himself "well liked" which would lead to a brilliant career. The older Willy's hopes are mostly focused on his sons, especially Biff, whom he still believes (in the teeth of all the evidence) to be capable of great things. When his son disappoints him, Willy turns on him fiercely, accusing him of being a "lazy bum". Biff's lack of success in life does indeed derive partly from his own weaknesses, but Willy's unrealistic expectations are also partly to blame; Biff would probably be happiest working with his hands, but Willy tries to pressure him into taking a white-collar job.

The film follows the play in that on a number of occasions the action switches abruptly from the present into the past, as the characters act out episodes from earlier in Willy's life. Some of these episodes, in fact, may exist only in Willy's imagination, particularly those involving his wealthy older brother Ben, who is now dead although that does not prevent him from making several appearances. Ben, in fact, is not really a character in his own right, but rather functions as a symbol of the failures and missed opportunities in Willy's life.

At one time filmed versions of stage plays were done in a similar way to theatrical productions (the Marlon Brando/Vivien Leigh "A Streetcar Named Desire" from the early fifties is a good example), but in the seventies and eighties the general tendency was to "open them up" by filming on location as well as on studio sets, by taking liberties with the playwright's text, often making significant changes to the plot and even introducing extra characters. "Death of a Salesman", although it was made as late as 1985, has a very old-fashioned feel to it. It not only keeps Arthur Miller's plot unchanged, but also follows his text almost literally to the word. There is no attempt to open it up; it is filmed entirely on stylised, deliberately artificial-looking sets similar to those that would be used in a theatre.

Normally I would take the view that the cinema and the theatre are two different media and that one should not try to imitate the other. This film, however, was originally made for television and based on a Broadway production, and works better on the small screen than it probably would do on a big one. It is, in fact, a very good film, despite its old-fashioned, theatrical look. The main reason, apart from the quality of Miller's original play, is the quality of the acting. Dustin Hoffman called the role of Willy Loman his favourite acting experience; it is certainly one of his best, although not in my view his very best. (That remains "The Graduate"). He brings out all the complexities and contradictions in Willy's character, a man who is certainly difficult, perhaps even impossible, but at the same time also tragic and pitiable.

The play has been seen as a critique of the capitalist economy or of the American way of life. That is one possible interpretation, but there is more to it than that. It also deals with the plight of the elderly, especially those whom society no longer seems to value, with the human need, too often disappointed, to aspire to a better life, and with the gap between appearance and reality. On a more personal level it is also a character study and an exploration of the relationships within a family, especially father-son relationships. This means that the supporting cast has to be strong, and Hoffman certainly receives strong support, especially from Kate Reid as Linda, Charles Durning as Charley and above all from John Malkovich as Biff. The result was an excellent production that brought out the various levels of meaning in Miller's play as well as the tragedy of its central figure. 8/10

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