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So You Want to Be a Salesman (1947)

Approved | | Comedy, Short | 13 September 1947 (USA)
Joe McDoakes is new at selling vacuum cleaners and, despite using every technique and approach in the manual, he fails to sell even one, as his wife also refuses to buy one. He is fired and ends up doing singing commercials on the radio.


(as Richard Bare)


(as Richard Bare)


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Cast overview:
George O'Hanlon ...
Narrator (voice)


Joe McDoakes starts his new job as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman for the Atom Smasher Corporation, whose sales managers treat the company like it's the military and the salesmen its foot soldiers. Joe follows the training manual in trying to sell the vacuums, but doesn't seem to have much luck, even in the off chance that he does come across a willing buyer. His failure in this job is to the dismay of his exasperated wife, Alice. On the possibility of a court martial by the sales managers and a dishonorable discharge from the corporation if he doesn't come through, Joe is certain that he can become a success in the sales business. Written by Huggo

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Plot Keywords:

joe mcdoakes | narration | sequel | See All (3) »


Comedy | Short


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 September 1947 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Followed by So You Want to Know Your Relatives (1954) See more »


Turkey in the Straw
Used as the bubble bath melody
See more »

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User Reviews

Selling a Product As Well As One's Abilities
6 February 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

PERHAPS IT WAS the experiences of the Depression followed by the struggles of winning World War II that energized our taste In that which we consider to be funny, but it would appear that we treated to having our hero taking turns with a parade of various jobs. Was this an unconscious and therefore unintentional celebration of better times? COULD THIS BE a reaction to the New Deal years and the reliance on abbreviations such as: NRA, CCC, WPA and, PWA? Or could we be reading too much into this? What do you think, Schultz? BUT WE DIGRESS, let's move on.

IN THIS INSTALLMENT, we zero in on Joe Mc Doakes, already employed as a door-to-door salesman, who is having serious problems living up to expectations of his heavily militarized company. The boss is a real martinet, who doubtless was shaped by his own wartime experiences, which narrator Art Gilmore eve mentions.

WE ARE TREATED to a series of doorway encounters between Joe and various household people (Mostly women, of course) who all seem to have no interest in buying a vacuum cleaner. As we progress from one household to the next, we see his sales handbook with a different rule of thumb highlighted each time.

IN THIS COMEDY, Mr. George O'Hanlon's aptitude for mugging to the camera as he looks to us, the audience members, for sympathy is exploited to the maximum. Added to that element are some great, cartoon-like gags that greatly aid in not only producing the laughs; but also in moving the story along to a successful, pleasing and very funny conclusion.

WE'RE THINKING THAT this sort of free wheeling sales was popular during the late '40s; though we cannot say so from experience. Having been born in 1946, we were around then, but were a trifle truly "wet behind the ears!" Our conclusion about this sort of direct sales activity is fueled by having seen it at the center of so many movies and old TV episodes of the period.

AS EXEMPLIFYING THIS assertion, we cite the Red Skelton starring comedy vehicle, THE FULLER BRUSH MAN (Edward Small Prod./Columbia Pictures, 1948); which of course this short predated by a year.

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