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I cannot believe this film is rated below an 8
What else can be written about James Foley's adaptation of David Mamet's Pulitzer prize winning play other than devastatingly scorching.
Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, and Jonathan Pryce: perhaps the greatest acting ensemble ever put before a camera, collectively portray employees of a real estate agency- the sales department. Some of the greatest characters written in the 20th century cinema. Lemmon, 'the machine' Levene, is the old hero, now on a steady and sharp decline. Revered by others. Pacino,Ricky Roma the hot shot. He keeps an arm's length from everyone. Alan Arkin, George, is simply the loser. Never was hot, never will be - totally hopeless. Ed Harris is Dave Moss, a fighter, kinda like DeNiro in Raging Bull. Not hot, willing to do anything to reach the top. Like a rabid pitbull. Frustrated and at the boiling point. Kevin Spacey, Williamson, is the manager. A puppet of the owners, a real pencil pusher. But at least he doesn't live off of door-to-door sales. Alec Baldwin, in his greatest performance of his career, only taking up a mere 10 mins of screen time, tears the screen to shreds and burns the film up with one of the most incendiary, provocative, foul-mouthed, scene-chomping speeches ever. I was 17 when I saw this in the theatre and Alec Baldwin blew my mind with that scene. In college we used to watch this film over and over and rewind the speech 10 times over. We knew every line, every gesture. Jack Lemmon's face when Baldwin yells "Put that coffee down! Coffee's for closers". Or "You see this watch? this watch costs more than your car".We would kill ourselves laughing, that's how much we loved it.
Mamet's character driven screenplay delves into the place in our souls and in our psyches, where desperation exits. The men live off of selling near useless Florida real estate, and their tool is the cold call - the hard sell. Lemmon, Pacino,and Bladwin are true masters. Gold belt senseis of the cold call. The bullcrap that they can unload is remarkable. Stream of consciousness. Lie upon lie. Smug and greasy. Pacino's monologue to the hapless gimmel Pryce, leads to tangents about pedophilia, and the stench of urine in subways. He wields a cheezy brochure of the properties like it's Shakespeare, with a picture of a fabergé egg on it. Lemmon meanwhile desperately stands in rain drenched phone booths, creating illusions to the listener like a verbal ballet. When he worms his way into one of the lead's house, he plants himself on the couch and grabs a stuffed animal he sees there. That little thing he does there, that gesture; in those 3 seconds, his character's conflict is symbolized. Though the guru to all younger than him, his decline is turning into an avalanche, ready to bury him. He is so desperate he resorts to the cheesiest, phoniest, approaches. It is heartbreaking to watch. Drama not unlike that of the great Greek tragedies of Aeschylus and Euripides. Classic human fare. Alan Arkin is slightly type-cast as the bumbling, mumbling, passive, loser. He has done it so many times. But this has to be the apex of that characterization for him. Ed Harris is so full rage, spitting venom (and literally spitting on Al Pacino during his farewell speech, his "farewell to the troops"). It is literally one of the most expletive laden tirades ever projected in mainstream cinemas. You are just waiting for his ears to smoke and his head to explode. Gut wrenching. Williamson, is subject to, by Roma and Levene, the harshest tongue whippings ever. Ferocious, nasty, derogatory. Spacey is literally humiliated by these masters of bulls**t. He most certainly gets his comeuppance; and later, a pretty nasty little service return of his own. Much is written in these reviews about the swearing in the film. Swearing, in Mamet's works, is part of the syntax of those worlds. It is almost like the curse words become subtext. It is like the plié in his abusive ballet of words. But nonetheless, umbrage can be made about this matter. It is after all, foul swearing, carpet-bombed from a writer who uses it as his key verbal motif. You simply have to accept as Mamet's artistic license and move on. It is one of those things that you simply cannot let ruin the experience for you. Mamet is widely considered one of the greatest living playwright and screenwriter in the English language. Just consider the swearing as part of the stylization of the cold-caller salesman language.
The narrative of Glengarry Glen Ross takes place in one evening and the next morning, and is mostly in a dingy office and a Chinese restaurant. Superbly light, and with an awesome jazz score, it has great camera moves that highlight, accent, punctuate, and round out the actors' performances. My favourite motif is the subway that rattles by - at crucial moments of crucial dialogues. It is interesting to note, that the director, James Foley, who superbly crafted this ensemble piece, never really became an A-list director. All the elements are there, perfectly and purposely assembled - the sound, the image, the performances. Perhaps, Mamet did more directing than the writer normally would? Or did the real cinema pros - the cast - just take the ball and run, literally directing the film themselves, so used to playing those roles on stage, with the exception of Pacino and Baldwin. Another note of interest, is that I have seen this film numerous times, with a variety of people, and have yet to meet a female who liked it. This seems to categorize Glengarry Glen Ross as perhaps one the more masculine, testosterone soaked, man-only films ever. Like wild male animals fighting it out in the jungles. Despite that, I say this is definitely a must see for guy and gal cinema lovers all over.
This film is perfect. I give out 10s about as often as Stanley Kubrick
films, and Glengarry Glen Ross is one of them.
There is so much more in this film than just a bunch of guys in a real estate office. I'm puzzled, as an aside, why the language is considered such a big deal. There is less of it in GGR than in the average DeNiro film I watch. Maybe it's because the film is composed of almost nothing but dialogue.
Back to the content. GGR contains at least two, maybe three of my favorite performances by anyone. Baldwin, who I really don't like, is perfect. Lemmon is excruciatingly good, and Pacino actually makes me forget who I'm watching. He really sinks into his character. Pryce also gives a commendable performance.
For those who didn't get this film, who think it's just dark and pointless, here's the point. The title is Glengarry Glen Ross. If you listen to the conversations you will notice that the Glengarry leads are the new leads, the ones given to closers, the leads given to those who go out and squeeze as much money out of people as they can so they don't lose their jobs.
Glen Ross farms are talked about in a brilliantly written conversation between Ed Harris and Alan Arkin, the one when Harris orders donuts and Arkin keeps repeating back to him what he said. "..Boots, yes." In that conversation, Harris talks about what he learned when he first got into the sales racket. You don't sell one car to a guy, you sell him 5 cars over fifteen years. But, he says, those guys who come in and burn everyone for as much money as they can get and then go to Argentina ruined a good thing. The drive to win the Cadillac had ruined the ideal of maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship between customer and salesman. Sharks like Baldwin came in, made their millions, and left a wasteland for the "losers" to work in.
The film is about how business in America is war, and about how the drive for capital has ultimately dehumanized us. The strongest contrast is between Baldwin and Lemmon. Baldwin is a machine. Everything in his life, his very identity, is defined by the fact that his watch cost more than a "loser's" car. "Family man? Go home and play with your kids." "A loser is always a loser." His name is that he drives a BMW.
With Lemmon, pay attention to the brief references to his daughter. The man is desperate to make money, not only to keep his job, but to pay for his daughter's medical treatment. A very human thing.
Eventually, these men prey not only on customers, but on each other. It's vicious. If you don't understand why, all you'll see is the viciousness, and you probably won't enjoy the film.
The first time I saw this movie my jaw was hanging down and my mouth wide
open from start to finish. I was gripped.
This movie has no sex, no violence, no car chases, no action - but absolutely the most powerful acting I have ever seen. Uncompromisingly realistic.
Having said that, I can understand why so many people do NOT like it - you have to like dramas, and especially one centered so much around desparation and conflict, and NOT around action. It is adapted from the stage play, and I appreciate the way in which it was shot, retaining so much of the raw appeal that can only be felt at the theatre, as opposed to the cinema.
This movie is a veritable who's who of acting, with Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Jonathan Pryce - not to mention a then-relatively-unknwon Kevin Spacey.
If you can appreciate powerful acting, films based on dialogue with few scene changes, and can withstand an absolute barrage of foul language (which I must add is perfectly suited to this film), then this movie will blow you away.
I've read the comments about the amount of profanity in this movie..if
you've ever worked in a less than ethical sale office, you'll know the
language is very real...having worked a few years in telemarketing selling
everything from wireless cable licenses to vitamins and ad specs, I can
you, the dialog is very real.
This is my favorite movie of all time...sure, it's not flashy, upbeat or effect-laden, but it's so realistic that the first time I saw it, I got goosebumps...
Every character in the movie is one that I recognized from my office experiences...the mega-closer mouth piece (Baldwin), the complainers who always complained about the leads (Lemon and Arkin), the office manager who'd never actually sold anything before but had a little rub (Spacey), the hotshot salesman (Pacino)... it was just so real...anyone who's ever worked in a brokerage can tell you about the amounts of profanity in the sales profession...especially high pressure sales...
Ben Affleck's performance in "Boiler Room" has shades of Baldwin's performance in this movie...not a bad thing, just an observation. Baldwin's best acting is this 5 minute scene and his "I am God" speech in "Malice".
Amazing acting all around, tight realistic dialog (first time I saw this, I could almost say the words before they were spoken) Highly recommended! 10
No film that I have ever seen expresses the path that the working man follows better than this one. Lemmon and Arkin are perfect as the salesman who's luck has turned towards the negative. You can literally see their will to live being sucked out of them with every blown sale and missed opportunity. Ed Harris is great as the angry salesman who is willing to do what it takes to save his own future. Kevin Spacey plays the tight -collared boss to a T, pushing people and not giving them the breaks they need. The two most quoted characters of any movie I know are those played by Pacino and Baldwin. Pacino always excels in parts where his anger and ability to create believable outbursts are showcased, as they are in this part. All that I can say about Baldwin is that this is definitely his best performance and the writing for his character is unbelievable. I can watch his 10 minute scene over and over again. This movie rules in every way possible. 10 out of 10. (I don't give that rating easily)
I cannot believe this film has been out there all these years and I
just now saw it for the first time this week. I rented it on a whim and
I've watched it four times since Monday.
Glengarry Glen Ross is the story of a failing real estate office in which four agents are told they'd better get some property sold quick, or they'll be out of a job. By the end of the month, the top seller will win himself a Cadillac, the guy who finishes second will win himself a set of steak knives. The other two jokers will be out on the street. The problem is that the good leads are locked away in a filing cabinet in the office manager's room. They won't be distributed until the end of the contest. The guys are left with only leads that likely won't pan out at all.
The four salesmen are each very memorable individuals. Al Pacino plays the best of the bunch. He's smooth and confident, and he seems to be the only guy making any good sales recently. Jack Lemmon is the old lion of the bunch. He's a good talker, but he's been on a stretch of terrible luck both professionally and personally. It's looking like he is now obsolete, and could be one of the guys let go. Ed Harris is a brooding; scheming character also on a streak of bad luck. His plan is not to make sales, but break into the office and steal the good leads. Alan Arkin is a meek fellow who cannot even dial the right phone number or carry on any type of meaningful conversation. Each actor has their character down perfectly.
The story unfolds in less than a 24 hour period. Alec Baldwin is a hotshot salesman from "downtown" who shows up at the beginning of the film and lets the guys know how worthless they are. He lays down the terms of the contest in some very colorfully profane language that sets the tone for the rest of the script. Profanity can be monotonous and gratuitous, but not here. Mamet's script is like a piece of art formed by interlacing all the fine swear words in the English language together with a touch of ironic gloom. And how often do you hear the word "c*cksucker" said with the articulate dignity of Jack Lemmon? We see each character for what they are, and each actor is allowed to show us why they are so famous. I believe this film to be a landmark piece of cinema for this generation. As much as 12 Angry Men was in its own time. How often do you see such a cast get together with such a fine script? Not often enough, I'd say.
The Kevin Spacey character has a special place in my heart. I also work at a job where I have to deal with a bunch of pompous salesmen. I suppose it comes with the job, but salesmen always seem to think they are more important than they are. What they don't seem to understand is that different people can be hired to sell the same goods and services. More often than not, it is the company that retains or loses customers. That said, sales is a ballsy profession, and it does take genuine skill and luck to be successful at it.
For those out there who either are salesmen or like them, then this film will also be a treat. There is one beautiful scene in particular when Jack Lemmon has just made what he thinks is a huge sale to break his slump. He bursts into the office and happily demands his sale be noted on the board with everyone else's. Nobody but Pacino seems interested (Harris for example acts jealous and spiteful) in hearing the details. Pacino comes over and sits by Lemmon and listens to how the old master was able to pull it off. The camera subtly backs off and lets the two share the moment together. That was very well-done.
Due to all the profanity in this film, it is basically not possible to show it on network television. This may be the primary reason the film has slipped through the cracks over the years, and not made many top 100 lists and so forth. If you want to see some great actors doing what they do best, then DO NOT MISS THIS FILM!
10 of 10 stars
For those who are fans of action, explosions and flashy special f/x--this is not your movie. For those who are fans of extraordinary acting, strong characters, a great plot and priceless dialogue--it just doesn't get any better than this! When I say you're in for a treat, I mean it with the utmost certainty. Al Pacino and Kevin Spacey are on my list of favorite actors. The rest of the cast isn't quite on there, but they're all actors that I highly admire and some of which come close to being on my favorites list. First of all, it's hard to not be at least somewhat interested by a film written by David Mamet. He is simply the master when it comes to pacing and sharp dialogue. He truly has a style like no other. There's a million lines in this movie that I love to quote, many of which are in Alec Baldwin's opening speech. "F**k you, that's my name. You came here in a Hyundai, I drive a 80,000-dollar Oldsmobile--that's my name." And Kevin Spacey's "Go to lunch" speech is great as well. Every time I watch that scene I think back to when he read those same lines with a student on "Inside the Actor's Studio." Mamet's dialogue is delivered a lightning-fast pace, which I find fascinating. It makes you feel like you're watching an old movie, only in color and with an abundance of cuss words. This film brought tears to my eyes, not because it's incredibly sad, but because it's so intense. Watching actors like Al Pacino and Jack Lemmon share a scene is like a dream for any true film buff. Lemmon gave one of the best performances of his entire film career in this movie, and that's saying a whole lot! Needless to say, we suffered a tragic loss when he died. It's a surprise that he didn't receive an Oscar for his work in "Glengarry." Pacino also gives one of his best performances, in my opinion. In his recent films like "The Recruit" and "Simone," he hasn't gotten the chance to show off his acting chops to the fullest extent. His performance in this movie is an example of Pacino in full gear. Spacey is perfectly slimy in his role, and I despised him every minute he was on screen. Everyone who's ever had a job is familiar with some secretary or assistant manager, who's uptight and constantly plays by-the-book, just so he can maintain the respect of the boss whose butt he kisses every minute of the day. We've all encountered scumb*gs like him, and that's why it made it so easy for me to hate his guts. Every character is multi-dimensional, and I was able to feel either a deep sympathy or a deep hatred towards each of them. Some have criticized this film for being visually unimpressive, since it takes place mainly on one location. That didn't bother me one bit. When you have actors this engaging, setting is definitely not the issue. People always feel that when a play is adapted onto screen, it has to take place in many different locations, to "take advantage" of it being a motion picture. I always feel that good writing and good acting are the key elements of a good movie. If you want to see great visuals, go rent the whole "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. But for those begging for something of substance should love this movie. I'm constantly on the edge-of-my-seat when I watch this movie. All aspiring actors should be required to watch "Glengarry Glen Ross" as a prerequisite, because all you need to know about great acting is in this movie. A DON'T MISS!! (10 out of 10)
Those who must rely on their wits to make a living are often prone to
desperate measures born of the insecurities inherent in their field of
endeavor-- a straight commission salesman, for example; or in this instance,
a real estate salesman, in particular. And under pressure, to what will one
in such a position resort to stay afloat when times are tough? A legitimate
question that every consumer would no doubt like to have answered before
signing the dotted line and committing some big money to a purchase. Well,
hold tight, because help is on the way, as writer/director David Mamet goes
to great lengths to answer it in `Glengarry Glen Ross,' an unflinching,
hard-edged film that examines the motivations of those who would readily and
eagerly separate you from more than a few of your hard earned dollars, and
whose least concern, apparently, is the value of their product or that
parcel of land, which according to them is situated just this side of
Shangri-la. And if you've ever trusted a big-ticket salesman in your life,
after visiting Mamet's film, it's doubtful you ever will
Very simply, the story is this: The Company wants results; the hierarchy expects their salesmen to produce, and they don't care how. Toward that end, a `motivator' (Alec Baldwin), has been dispatched to this particular office to put things into perspective for those who would sell their wares, as it were. The deal is, that at the end of a given period of time, the salesman whose name is at the top of the tote board will get a new car; those who fail to meet their quota are out the door. End of story. They will, however, be supplied with `leads,' but from the `old' file. The new, `fresh' leads are reserved for those who first prove themselves worthy, those who can do whatever it takes to make the sale, without qualm, reservation or conscience. But the prospect of being put on the street in the wake of the give-no-quarter edict only serves to drive one amongst them to an act of desperation-- an irrational act from which there can be no forgiveness and no redemption. A tough verdict, but then again, nobody said life was going to be easy.
In adapting his own play for the screen, Mamet returns to one of his favorite themes by exploring yet another variation of the `con' forever being perpetrated somewhere, on someone, in one way or another. In Mamet's world (in films such as `House of Games' and the more recent `Heist') nothing is ever as it seems, and the confidence game is always afoot, the causes and effects of which make up the drama of his stories. And this film is no exception. Whether it's the smooth and savvy top-dog of the office, Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), schmoozing a client into handing over a check, or a veteran loser like Shelley Levene (Jack Lemmon) showing up at someone's door on a cold call at a most inopportune and inconvenient moment and refusing to leave, Mamet convincingly maintains that the con-is-always-on, and the result-- especially in this film-- is a bleak, but riveting commentary on the human condition, delivered with an intensity that will keep you on the very edge of your emotional seat right up to the end.
The cast Mamet assembled for this offering is superb: Al Pacino is in top form and extremely effective with a comparatively tempered performance; the scene in which he lulls his customer (played by Jonathan Pryce) into complacency is absolutely hypnotic. This is the salesman you hope you never encounter, especially if something like the Brooklyn Bridge is being offered, as such overtures as those proffered by Ricky Roma are just too hard to refuse. And Pacino not only sells it, he closes the deal, as well.
Ed Harris, as Dave Moss, is outstanding, also, creating a character whose bitterness seems to flow from the inside out, and has long since overwhelmed that ability and better part of himself that could've made him a successful salesman, had he but turned his energies to more positive concerns and away from the self-defeating, self-pity into which he has descended. While at the opposite end of the spectrum is George, played by Alan Arkin, who unlike Dave (who though unable to act upon it, at least had promise at some point in his career) has nothing but insecurity and empty dreams to sustain him. As wonderfully realized by Arkin, he's the proverbial duck-out-of-water, who belongs anywhere except in a job as a salesman.
The best performance of all, however, is turned in by Jack Lemmon, who in Shelley Levene creates a character so steeped in despair and hopelessness that's it's almost tangible. You have but to look into Lemmon's eyes to understand the turmoil and depth of Shelley's desperation, and Lemmon successfully conveys the complexities of this man in terms that are believable and incredibly real. He makes Shelley a guy you can feel for without necessarily sympathizing with him. It's simply a terrific piece of work by a terrific actor.
Another of the film's strengths is the performance by Kevin Spacey, as John Williamson, the office manager. It's an understated, but pivotal role, and Spacey does a good job of making it convincing, which ultimately heightens the overall impact of the film, especially the climax.
The supporting cast includes Bruce Altman (Mr. Spannel), Jude Ciccoledda (Detective) and Paul Butler (Policeman). Mamet builds and sustains a tension throughout this film that drives the anxiety level through the roof; at times, it's exhausting to watch. In the end, however, `Glengarry Glen Ross' is a satisfying experience, involving very real situations with which many in the audience will be able to relate, and delivered with a high-powered energy equal to the subject matter. And once you catch your breath, it's one you're going to appreciate even more. It's the magic of the movies. I rate this one 9/10.
I went into "Glengarry Glen Ross" totally blind. I had no idea who David
Mamet was really (other than the fact that he was a writer), never saw any
of his plays, or realized that he'd been in business for a while (through
some backtracking, I found out that he was the writer behind the film
version of "The Untouchables", one of the best films of the 80's). All that
changed after I saw this brilliant, BRILLIANT film. It amazes me how all the
big names in this film (and there are plenty, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Al
Pacino, Ed Harris, and Alec Baldwin) were pulled together for this two-act
movie play about a salesman's life. It's all very dialogue heavy throughout,
only about three or four different locations (the primary action all taking
place in the office) and yet I was never bored for a second. Counting up all
the "F*** You!"s in this film has convinced me that the tongue stings in
ways a torture specialist can only imagine. The dialogue is clever, vicious,
and occasionally even a little funny (particularly when Pacino is in action;
intentional or not, he can be a VERY funny guy). The plotting doesn't show
all it's cards straight away, as there are one or two suprises that
ultimately catch the viewer off-guard.
Now as to the cast, what to say that hasn't been said? Hmmm...nothing really, I suppose. Watching Lemmon's desperation, Harris' anger, Pacino's laid-back cool, Spacey's authoritarian chutzpah, and Baldwin's icy dissection of his employees is astounishing to behold. Lesser actors would have made the results much less memorable and/or believable. These guys make it unforgettable. Two decades from now on, when all the hooplas of the 90's "hits" dies down, people will rediscover what I already know: "Glengarry Glen Ross" is one for the ages.
I love movies like this. Theatre-styled motion pictures driven by
dialog versus action. Get a few guys together in a room, watch them
talk -- I have a soft spot for this stuff. I have ever since I can
remember. Some of my favorite films are character-driven ones: "The
Hustler," "The Big Kahuna," "Midnight Run," "Planes, Trains &
Automobiles." At first glance this list seems skeptical -- but
basically all these films follow the same central theme: clever dialog,
character interaction and evolution, and depth.
"Glengarry Glen Ross" is one of the best of the genre. Scripted by David Mamet, the dialog never hits and weak patches -- it is realistic, extremely fun to listen to, and the actors all deliver flawless performances.
Al Pacino finally finds the perfect role to let himself vent (as he started to do in "Scent of a Woman" the same year, and won an Oscar for -- he deserved it more for this). Pacino has some great one-liners and quips, but he never seems too broad to find believable.
Jack Lemmon is similarly impressive, in what he called one of his favorite films of his entire career. Lemmon abandoned his comedic roots for this drama and it paid off -- he's not only an excellent funnyman, but a great actor.
Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, and Alec Baldwin fill out the rest of the cast and all do very well; especially Baldwin in a brief cameo. I've never had much consideration for Baldwin as an actor, but his five minutes' worth of screen time here reminded me that when he's good, he really IS good! Overall "Glengarry Glen Ross" is not only one of my favorite films of the genre but also a solid movie by any means. If you aren't bored by movies in which people talk instead of running around defusing bombs, you'll probably really get a kick out of this.
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