The art and direction of conversation fuels our daily interactions. They may consist of information relating to trivial banter, joyous or disastrous news, brainstorming a new idea, or securing a promising sale. Grammar, tone, and phrasing are just some components necessary to convey persuasion and importance to ensure a successful sale. While some are genuine in selling a product, others use manipulation and deception. Tactics used in selling a product may all be influenced by personal communication styles, product practicality and cost, work environment, and mode of pay. “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a 1992 drama directed by James Foley which explores the differing strategies and attitudes of four salesmen working in a real estate agency under extreme pressure from a more powerful company but also for themselves.
Rio Rancho Real Estates is a struggling real estate firm umbrella’d beneath a larger company named Premier Properties. Blake (Alec Baldwin), a cocky, wealthy salesman from the more esteemed business, delivers a masqueraded, vile ultimatum to the disillusioned agents. The top grossing salesman wins an El Dorado, the second best wins a set of steak knives, and the bottom two will be fired by week’s end. The top two will also gain access to the coveted leads of Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms. This prospect cultivates the salesmen to individually and sometimes collectively to achieve their goals with less-than-ideal leads via various means – night-owl home visits, a robbery, and careful coercion via alcohol and crafty wordsmith skills. Greed, family dependence, deception, jadedness, facades, ego, yet survival all fuel the salesman’s quest for success. However, they harbour desperation, loneliness, emptiness, and longing for a less arduous existence at their core.
The ensemble acting is the beating heart of this film. Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Jonathan Pryce, and Jack Lemmon deliver razor sharp dialogue with a mesmerizing tempo. They separately represent men with varying and sometimes polar opposite character traits. Together, they are dynamic, explosive, and clever but also vacuous. Of note, Jack Lemmon was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role of Shelley Levine, a once prominent but now poor-selling salesman with an ill family member. He embodies many emotions so convincingly in this character, from feeling desolate, pitiful, anxious, frightened, shocked, weary, and overjoyed. Lemmon was a veteran and absolute legend at this point in his career, and mutual respect amongst the actors (especially towards Lemmon) palpably exudes from the screen.
The title refers to two important lead prospects, as mentioned previously. Their potential possession dangles in front of the salesmen, creating salivation and yearning for even more monetary gain. The whole idea of giving the most substantial leads for real estate lands to the greatest closer is preposterous. It does not allow those who are struggling to harness their potential with greater material in their initial pitch to buyers. This creates a larger wage gap and animosity between members of the same group, spiralling out of control as long as this setup continues. It is a reminder of the importance of workers’ rights. Decent humanity and protection of these rights will lead to a more productive work and home environment.
I do not own the above picture.
This blog post is a part of the Jack Lemmon Blogathon hosted by Critica Retro and Wide Screen World. Please check their pages over the next two days to check out wonderful posts about the endearing and wonderful Jack Lemmon!