← Back to Reviews
\

Glengarry Glen Ross



If you've ever been harassed on the phone by a salesperson or telemarketer, you might want to check out Glengarry Glen Ross, the scorching 1992 drama, based on David Mamet's play, which sheds an unflattering light on the real estate business and on salesman in general and the deception, betrayal, and desperation of those in the field to be number one on the board again.

Set in a seedy, second rate real estate office, a small group of salesman are threatened with termination if they don't start closing more deals. The sales staff agree that the reason sales are down is due to a lack of strong leads. When a new set of leads find their way to the office, the Glengarry leads, the office manager refuses to let go of them which forces someone to break into the office and steal them, resulting in some startling repercussions for everyone in the office.

The players involved here are strikingly realistic, rich with resentments and hidden agendas regarding their work. Shelley "The Machine" Levine (Jack Lemmon) is the veteran salesman whose best days are behind him, desperate to get back on the board again and stay from underneath the bills for his hospitalized daughter. Ricky Roma (Al Pacino) is currently leading sales in the office, apparently because he gets the strongest leads, but also because some of his sales techniques are less than kosher. Dave Moss (Ed Harris) and George Aaronow (Alan Arkin) are the two sales guys stuck in the middle and lost in the shuffle, convinced that stronger leads are their ticket out. All four salesman are given motive and opportunity to steal the Glengarry leads and therein the effective mystery and drama lie. It's also fascinating watching the salesman involved in their individual sales techniques over the phone and how much of it is just smoke and mirrors.

Director James Foley creates a dark and moody atmosphere here...it is raining during most of the story's running time and it almost always seems to be early in the evening here, implying that these guys have put everything else in their lives on the back burner in pursuit of the strongest leads. David Mamet's adaptation of his own play is brilliant and Oscar-worthy, with sizzling dialogue delivered by Foley's hand-picked cast.

Al Pacino received an Oscar nomination for his Ricky Roma, a cocky know it all whose short cuts to success are a mystery for most of the story. Jack Lemmon delivers the performance of his career, which should have earned him an Oscar nomination, as the grasping and desperate Shelley, the sales veteran willing to do anything to stay in the game. I love that Roma and Shelley, who should be mortal enemies, seem to have a strong mutual respect for each other, which effectively works its way into the climax of the film. Harris and Arkin have their share of explosive moments and Kevin Spacey is appropriately greasy as the office manager, who is definitely painted in shades of gray and there is a brilliant cameo from Alec Baldwin as the corporate honcho who introduces the termination threats that fuel this volatile story.

A once in a lifetime drama fueled by sizzling dialogue, vivid and atmospheric direction, and knockout performances.