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Salesman (1969)

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Four relentless door-to-door salesmen deal with constant rejection, homesickness and inevitable burnout as they go across the country selling very expensive bibles to low-income Catholic families.
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Cast

Credited cast:
Paul Brennan ... Himself - 'The Badger'
Charles McDevitt ... Himself - 'The Gipper'
James Baker ... Himself - 'The Rabbit'
Raymond Martos ... Himself - 'The Bull'
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Melbourne I. Feltman
Margaret McCarron
Kennie Turner
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Storyline

Filmmakers (and brothers) Albert and David Maysles follow four employees of a company that makes expensive, ornate, illustrated bibles as they attempt to sell the items door-to-door to less-than-interested customers, who are mainly poor or lower-middle-class Catholics with little money to spend on pretty Bibles. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

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Genres:

Documentary | Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Maysles Films

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Language:

Release Date:

17 April 1969 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Caixeiro-Viajante  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$105,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1992. See more »

Connections

Featured in These Amazing Shadows (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

If I Were a Rich Man
(uncredited)
Written by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock
Portion sung by Paul Brennan
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User Reviews

Searing and unforgettable
8 February 1999 | by See all my reviews

As with Frederick Wiseman's "Titicut Follies," the Maysles brothers' "Salesman" is truly a landmark for the "cinema verite" documentary movement of the 1960s. Although the former is shockingly realistic in a sensational way, "Salesman" is actually the more disturbing for showing the Hell-on-earth that marks the workaday world for most of humanity. If ever a film shows that most people "lead lives of quiet desperation," this is it. In my lifetime of viewing films, I've never seen a non-fiction film more affecting and poignant. That this film didn't make the AFI Top 100 is practically scandalous. Be forewarned, this is an oppressively sad, yet slyly funny, film that is not easy to watch. It speaks volumes about American business practices, the ties between business and organized religion, the exploitation of religious belief (and its perversion via materialism), the dehumanization of workers, the crushing wisdom that can come with aging, the scary mindset of suburban denizens, and a lot more. If ever anyone had the right to ask the question, "Is that all there is?" it would be Paul, an aging Bible salesman having trouble meeting his sales quota, who serves as the film's central character. The film is brutally honest, yet powerfully manipulative. It does beg the question: how much is real and how much is affected by the presence of the cameras? One does feel, after seeing this, that reality is just as bad as Dorothy Parker said it was. For those who fail, the American Dream is a nightmare. In short, a film you'll never forget.


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