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A-B-C. A-Always. B-Be. C-Closing. Always Be Closing!—Blake
A 1992 film, directed by James Foley and starring Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Ed Harris, about salesmen in a small firm who are given an ultimatum: bring in more sales or find a new job. The four major characters, all salesmen at the real-estate firm:
- Ricky Roma: A hotshot and the current highest-selling salesman
- Dave Moss: A frequent complainer
- George Aaranow: A poor salesman and follower who cannot stand up for himself
- Shelly "The Machine" Levene: A once-great salesman who has fallen upon a streak of "bad luck"
Notable for its flagrant use of profanity (which caused the cast and crew to refer to the movie as "Death of a Fucking Salesman"), no-holds-barred take on human savagery in sales, and shockingly honest portrayal of human nature. The film is still used by corporate sales training programs to demonstrate the "right" and "wrong" ways to make a sale.
The film is based on a play of the same name by David Mamet.
This film/play features examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion: Blake and his entire scene aren't in the play.
- All-Star Cast: The Movie. Every actor with more than two lines is a veteran or star.
- Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: There is nothing offensive in the film other than its use of profanity.
- Book Ends: A passing train.
- Brass Balls: The centerpiece of Alec Baldwin's epic speech is his use of a visual aid to demonstrate what a real estate seller needs.
- Canon Foreigner: Alec Baldwin's character Blake wasn't from the stage play.
- Cluster F-Bomb:
- There's a reason the cast referred to the film as "Death of a Fuckin' Salesman."
- You haven't lived until you hear Jack Lemmon snarl, "Fuck you!"
- Country Matters:
Ricky: You stupid fucking cunt. I'm talking to you shithead! Where did you learn your trade you stupid fucking cunt?
- Crapsack World: The world in which these salesmen live is filled with deception, backstabbing, unfulfilled promises, psychotic work loads and constant screaming and threats back and forth. And that's on a good day! The atmosphere of the film is supposedly Truth in Television as playwright/screenwriter David Mamet based it on his own experiences working at a boiler room real estate office in the 1960s.
- Downer Ending: There's not much to be happy about after Levene is presumably arrested and is taking Moss and Graff with him, Roma has lost $6,000 in commission and has a strong possibility of being sued, and the rest of the characters are no better off...
- Esoteric Happy Ending: Even though Levene deserves to go to jail, his sick daughter is going to end up worse off without him. And Willaimson found the guy who stole the leads, but with sales slow as it is, he'll probably end up on the street anyway. Though the play is all about the cutthroat, "you scratch my back I scratch yours" world of business, most of these guys are down on their luck or have their reasons.
- Executive Meddling: A positive example - the executives felt the film needed more exposition than the play did. The result was Blake's scene.
- Fun with Acronyms: Always Be Closing; Attention Interest Decision Action
- Ham-to-Ham Combat, particularly between Ed Harris and Al Pacino.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: How Levene slips up and reveals he was in on the heist. Williamson said he cashed Lingk's check, which was a lie. Levene calls Williamson on it, something Levene only could have known if he robbed the office.
- Justified Criminal: How Shelly probably sees himself due to his sick daughter.
- Jerkass: All of the main characters themselves.
- Literal Minded: Blake and his brass balls. The implied joke, of course, is that he thinks the salesmen are so literal minded they need the visual aid.
- MacGuffin: The Glengarry account leads act as one. After the content, those who keep their jobs get to use the leads, which means they'll be able to make some real money.
- Mamet Speak: Perhaps the most famous example.
- Name's the Same: The salesmen are selling land in "Rio Rancho" that is implied to be rather worthless. It's unclear whether this is supposed to be the real Rio Rancho in New Mexico or if it's just a fictional, generic location.
- One-Scene Wonder: Blake's scene in which he completely berates the office staff for their failure to perform.
- Precision F-Strike: Though the movie drops F-bombs frequently, Williamson has a particularly powerful one. Levene is begging Williamson not to tell the police he robbed the office, with Levene bringing up his daughter as a final plea. Williamson's response? "Fuck you."
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
- Blake has what is, perhaps, the greatest example in all of cinema.
- Roma delivers a spectacular one to Williamson, starting off by calling him a "stupid fucking cunt" and then going from there.
- Having spent the entire movie being the office Butt Monkey, Levene eagerly takes the opportunity to take up where Roma left off with regards to Williamson. Unfortunately for him, he gets carried away and makes a slip he shouldn't have, thus enabling Williamson to destroy him utterly.
- Second Place Is for Losers: First place gets a car, second place gets a set of steak knives, and everyone else gets fired.
- Serious Business: Sales really sucks.
- Shout-Out: A visual one to the painting Night Hawks.
- Shut UP, Hannibal: Subverted by Blake when Moss attempts to criticize him and he quickly adds his rebuttal.
- Levene's long-awaited chance to have a gloat to Williamson is well and truly shot down when Williamson picks up on a little slip that Levene shouldn't have made:
Williamson: How did you know I made it up?
- Smoking Hot Sex: Ricky talks about having a smoke after a passionate night of sex, and how he felt supremely satisfied at that moment.
- Snake Oil Salesman: An entire office full of them, and you will end up rooting for some of them.
- Vicious Cycle: The salesmen complain that they're stuck in one. They can't make sales without good leads, but they can't get good leads without sales. Blake counters that a real salesman could make sales with bad leads.
- Word Salad Title: Even after watching the play/movie you may understand that these are important account names, but you probably won't understand why they're important enough to be put together and made the title.