David Mamet and James Foley’s adaptation of the stage drama is a remarkable and intense look at a room full of men in various stages of a job where the clock is consistently ticking down. As a salesman, you begin as Al Pacino’s Richard Roma, a slick and swift salesman who is absolutely cut throat. Then the time begins running out and you invariably turn in to Shelley Levene, a man who is desperately trying to keep his job, clinging to one big deal that may or may not save his job.
When an office full of New York City real estate salesmen is given the news that all but the top two will be fired at the end of the week, the atmosphere begins to heat up. Shelley Levene (Jack Lemmon), who has a sick daughter, does everything in his power to get better leads from his boss, John Williamson (Kevin Spacey), but to no avail. When his coworker Dave Moss (Ed Harris) comes up with a plan to steal the leads, things get complicated for the tough-talking salesmen.
“Glengarry Glen Ross” is a mesmerizing and brutally absorbing ensemble drama that pits the best of filmdom against one another as salesman fighting for their job. Alec Baldwin has an iconic walk on role as Blake, a hot shot salesman who offers them an epic speech that doubles as a threat. It’s a threat to their career, to their livelihood and their welfare as salesmen. Writer Mamet follows the various struggling salesman for the firm, as they’re pressure to pull off one big sale that could guarantee their staying power. The problem is that as the world changes, their tactics just aren’t as fool proof as they used to be. This amounts to the theft that becomes the crux of the film’s narrative.
Whoever stole the leads for the sales probably did or didn’t have a personal motive, and writer Mamet and director Foley never quire lets on to the culprit. Mamet places a lot of stress on the salesmen, putting them in to a corner where they constantly fight for their job, and the impressive ensemble is never wasted. Everyone from Ed Harris, to Al Pacino, and Alan Arkin are fantastic, and Lemmon especially shines in a sub-plot teeming with urgency and desperation. “Glengarry Glen Ross” is still a bang up, engrossing drama teeming with suspense, and a stellar all star cast. It’s one of the masterpieces of the nineties that deserve celebration.
The Collector’s Edition from Shout Factory includes a commentary from Director James Foley, as well as a second commentary with co-star Jack Lemmon. There’s a thirty seven minute interview with director James Foley who recollects his early introduction to the screenplay, with Al Pacino interested in working with the young movie maker after the release of “At Close Range.” With David Mamet taking care of screenwriting duties, Foley didn’t order changes, finding the material perfect as it was. He discusses casting bringing in “gritty” talents, with Pacino heavily involved in putting the ensemble together. The interviewee explores Mamet’s reaction to the completed film, different reactions from early audiences, New Line Cinema’s terrible marketing for the feature’s initial theatrical release, and the lasting cult legacy of “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
The twenty four minutes “God Bless Ricky Roma” is a sit down with Joe Mantegna, who details his initial interest in acting, working extensively in the theater, and meeting David Mamet in the early 1970s while performing for the Organic Theater. “Magic Time” is a thirty minutes remembrance piece from 2002 about the life and times of Jack Lemmon, featuring interviews with son Chris Lemmon, “Save the Tiger” director John Avildsen, “Long Day’s Journey into Night” co-star Peter Gallagher, manager David Seltzer, friend James Lipton, and “Glengarry Glen Ross” director James Foley.
The group contributes lively anecdotes about Lemmon, exploring tales of fishing, stage mischief, fan interactions, and his long friendship with actor Walter Matthau. Finally, “Always Be Closing” is another twenty nine minutes 2002 featurette, this time looking at the history of the American salesman, with a number of real estate professionals sharing the ins and out of their work, including the requirements of the gig, which sometimes insists on pressure tactics a few here admit are distasteful. There are looks at various plays and movies about salesmen, as well.