In his autobiography "Timebends", Arthur Miller speculates that his unconscious mind picked the name "Loman" for Willy Loman, the protagonist of "Death of a Salesman", based on his conscious experience of being thrilled by The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, which featured a character named "Inspector Lohmann". See more »
Miller's classic, filmed as a play, deals with life's losers.
Willy Loman never realises until the end that he is a loser. Although his son Biff knows he himself is a loser, his father won't accept this. Son, Hap, like his father doesn't know he is a loser, either. Miller seems obliquely to imply that society is to blame for Willy's sad life. Maybe so, surely society doesn't cut him much slack, especially as represented by the son of his long time firm, for which he has been a fairly successful salesman much of his life. Whatever one's opinion on this subject, the play certainly portrays very genuine emotions and problems as the aging Willy more and more loses contact with reality and harkens back to nodal points in his life, especially contacts with his successful brother Ben. Or is Ben just a figment of his imagination. We can only guess. At the final funeral scene, Hap's losing philosophy continues. Could he and Biff take Willy's $20,000 insurance award and make it as ranching partners out west? We'll never know; Hap is determined to "make it big" in the Big Apple. Fat chance!
A better cast would be hard to imagine and the stage setting is beautifully photographed. The "fantasy" scenes are smoothly integrated with bits of "movie magic" that emulate what would be accomplished in the theatre with tricks of lighting. Cuts from the complete play are minor. This was TV at its best.
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