Arthur Miller disliked this film version of his play because he felt that the flashback sequences made it look as if Willy Loman were literally acting out his past in front of others, and that this made him seem insane. Perhaps because of this, other versions of the play have been shown on TV and video, but the 1951 version has not been televised in more than twenty years, and it has never been issued on VHS or DVD. See more »
A salesman is somebody way up there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine...
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When Death Of A Salesman was still on Broadway critics acclaimed Arthur Miller's play as an American classic and so it remains. There are so many versions out there that you've got so much to compare. And Lee J. Cobb who created the role of Willy Loman managed to get an acclaimed television version made for future generations to see.
I think that Fredric March's interpretation stands up to any that's out there. For one thing at the age of 54 he's the proper age for the part. March fleshes out the Loman character and plumbs his depth of a man who has seen life pass him by and he's running on fumes. He's not going to rise to management in his profession simply on his likability. And for Willy Loman that's the most important thing in the world.
His family which includes wife Mildred Dunnock and sons Kevin McCarthy and Cameron Mitchell stand by him. But McCarthy who since being a high school football hero has led a drifting aimless life is curiously alienated from his father. The source of that alienation is what you see Death Of A Salesman for.
Arthur Miller's work which is a classic about showing middle age with a purposeless existence has so many interpretations. Everyone has there own interpretation of Willy Loman so here's mine. When we're young we all start out with ambitions and dreams. Choices we make at that time determine our fates whether realize it or not. Most of us adjust and try to make a comfortable existence. It's usually our leisure time activities that identify us as individuals. Hobbies, causes, even sports fandom if that's your thing make life bearable. Willy didn't need to be liked, the poor guy needed a hobby.
Fredric March got an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, but lost to Humphrey Bogart for The African Queen. Mildred Dunnock and Kevin McCarthy were nominated in the supporting actress and actor categories. The film also received nominations for Best black&white cinematography and best musical scoring. It did not come home a winner as this was the year for A Streetcar Named Desire. Ironically March as Willy was up against the Broadway Biff Loman who was Arthur Kennedy and was nominated for Bright Victory.
I urge everyone to see all versions of Death Of Salesman as possible. I guarantee you will see as many Willys as there are actors to play him. This is as good as any.
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