Being a salesman is a dog-eat-dog business. That is the ultimate lesson learned from Glengarry Glen Ross, the James Foley film based on the play by David Mamet. Having just finished taking Personal Sales for my degree plan, it’s interesting to see what it could be like behind the scenes, when it comes to vying for the best leads. What people do in that desperation is what this movie is all about, and it’s really heartbreaking to see how it destroys even the seemingly best people.
The story starts with four salespeople who sell resort real estate. A man hired by their superiors (Alec Baldwin) comes in to basically tell them that the person who sells the least out of their given leads will be fired. He also unleashes a scathing rant about how terrible they are at their job in the process (which Alec Baldwin absolutely kills). These high stakes push the salesmen into panic mode. Some of them try to close deals with their mediocre leads and keep their jobs, and some take to more corrupt strategies to stay afloat.
This movie is really interesting in that it is entirely just people talking, from beginning to end. It’s no surprise that it was based on a play, as there are only about two locations in the entire movie. This format really lets all of the actors shine, and everyone involved gives it their all. I know Al Pacino got a lot of praise (as he should) but Jack Lemon was the real standout to me. I know he’s been around in Hollywood for awhile, but I’d never seen him in anything before. His character in Glengarry Glen Ross is really the most relatable one. An older man who’s best sales-days are behind him, and with a chronically ill daughter who he’s trying to take care of, it’s easy to rally behind him in this shark-tank of a sales contest. I’m still pretty bummed out with how his story ended, but I guess it all goes back into what the movie is trying to say.
So basically, I really, really never want to go near sales as a profession. I understand there are a lot of great and honest people that do it (my dad, for one) but also so many just trying to get a commission or hit a quota. I’m not sure if the real world really is quite as harsh as the one portrayed in this movie, but if it’s even half of that, I want nothing to do with that business. Unless of course, I work with Al Pacino and get yelled at by Alec Baldwin. In that case, sign me up.