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The ultimate SALESMAN movie

Movies . . . one profession at a time
By RYAN STEWART  |  March 13, 2006

ALWAYS BE CLOSING Baldwin delivers a lesson.Ruthless sharks, dumpy schlubs, or a combination of the two -- that's how Hollywood has portrayed the salesman over the years. And if you happen to sell shit for a living, you love every minute of it. Salesmen love to quote from movies, any movies. "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer," is a popular one, as well as "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." Of course, those are both Godfather quotes, a film that is not completely about sales. "Coffee is for closers" on the other hand, is from a salesman movie: from, in fact, the ultimate salesman movie.

Glengarry, Glen Ross (1992)
David Mamet's portrait of the cutthroat world of real estate is the clear-cut winner, particularly since, unlike most films about salesmen, it actually takes us inside the cubicles to give us an insider's view. Mamet's dialogue cuts like a fine ginsu knife, and Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Ed Harris and Jack Lemmon are all in top form.

Memorable quotes:
"Coffee is for closers."
"That watch costs more than you car."
"[Y]ou drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an eighty thousand dollar BMW. That's my name."'OH MY GOD we're burning alive! I can't feel my legs!'
"I need the leads."

Honorable mentions:
Fargo (1996). William H. Macy plays a lowly car salesman who pays two guys (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife so he can extort ransom money out of his father. Just as memorably, he sweet-talks some customers by making them think he's doing a special favor for them: "he's never done this before."

Tin Men (1987). Barry Levinson's vehicle about a rivalry between aluminum-siding salesmen Richard Dreyfus and Danny Devito explodes after Dreyfus crashes into DeVito's car. It culminates in a pool game for the hand of DeVito's character's wife (Barbara Hershey). Speaking of which, what ever happened to Barbara Hershey?

High Fidelity (2000). A motivated clerk named Barry (Jack Black) teaches us all about the power of persuasion when he makes some forceful and convincing arguments to get an unsuspecting customer to walk out of the store with Blonde on Blonde and some Jesus and Mary Chain. Also in the film: some business about John Cusack's love life.ULTIMATE SALESMAN ACTOR? Either DeVito or Spacey.

Tommy Boy (1995) - You could watch this brilliant farce starring the late Chris Farley in which he is forced to go on the road to save his father's auto parts business (with David Spade in tow). Then again, "I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull's ass, but I'd rather take the butcher's word for it?"

The Big Kahuna (1999). Kevin Spacey just looks like a salesman, which is probably why he was so convincing in this. Same with DeVito.

 

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