Director : James Foley
Movie release : 1992
Starring : Kevin Spacy, Al Pachino, Jack Lemon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin
IMDB Rating : 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes rating : 84%
Metacritic : 80%
What’s your name?”
The question is innocent enough. It’s one of a handful of basic, introductory phrases that everyone in the world has said at one time or another. But in the 1992 classic “Glengarry Glen Ross”, no question is innocent and human decency is in short supply.
In this world, the answer goes:
“Fuck you. That’s my name! You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight and I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name. And your name is, ‘You’re wanting.’ You can’t play in the man’s game? You can’t close them? Then go home and tell your wife your troubles. Because only one thing counts in this life: Get them to sign on the line which is dotted. You hear me, you fucking faggots?”
These abusive, provocative words by a slick and obviously a ‘slim’ Alec Baldwin who played the role of ‘Blake’ sets the tone for the entire movie which after its release, 25 years ago, has not only become an epitome of a well-executed drama but also a ‘must’ watch for the people working in sales and marketing.
Also for anyone who loves sharp dialogue, compelling characters, and a stinging social rebuke, Glengarry Glen Ross is not to be missed. It’s as unique a motion picture today as it was in 1992, and it has lost none of its power or relevance.
This movie has one of the finest casts imaginable; Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin. Among them, they have amassed an astonishing 25 Oscar nominations and five victories, with each of them being nominated at least once (and Pacino and Lemmon both garnering eight apiece).
Based on the popular stage play by David Mamet, the title comes from Glengarry Glen and Glen Ross Farms, two of the real estate offerings that are mentioned in the movie. There were four salesmen working in a New York City real estate office: hot-shot Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), who’s raking in commissions by the fistful; old-timer Shelley Levine (Jack Lemmon), who has lost his touch; tough-talker Dave Moss (Ed Harris), who’s looking for a way to screw management; and nervous George Aaronow (Alan Arkin), who’s in almost as bad a shape as Shelly.
Enter Blake (Alec Baldwin), a suit from uptown who’s sent into the trenches to give a Patton-like pep talk. He started it by saying “As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”
The guy who runs the office, John Williamson (Kevin Spacey), couldn’t be happier. He doesn’t like any of them, least of all Levine, who constantly berates him.
After Blake leaves the office, the salesmen turn on one another. The exception was Roma. He was far enough out in the lead of the sales contest that the only target of his contempt was Williamson, the clueless “secretary” who lords it over the salesman even though he’s never walked a mile in their shoes. Moss made a deal with another agency, then played off Levine against Aaronow. There was a robbery of the office, and the presence of a police detective further soured an already pungent mood.
The last act of the movie plays out somewhat like a whodunit, and is the weakest of the acts.
What makes Glengarry Glen Ross one of the finest films of the 1990s is the combination of Mamet’s flawless script and the commitment from every actor in the cast. The dialogue is a blast to listen to and watching these bullish men face off with one another without the use of physical force is electrifying.
But for as much as Glengarry Glen Ross is an actor’s film, empathy and emotion are almost completely lacking in its frames. There’s an abundance of passion and pride but these guys are almost completely soulless- as soulless as the brutal world of sales and marketing.