18) Glengarry Glen Ross [9.5]

In a role created specifically for the movie, Alec Baldwin appears as a sales motivator, informing the group of hard-luck salesmen that they must compete in a sales contest where the losers will be fired. The agents work their same tired leads, until one hatches a scheme to burglarize the office, steal the leads, and sell them to a rival. (1992)

By day, I’m a Talent Acquisition Specialist, also known as a Recruiter, and a Headhunter. I help hire people in companies. Whereas I use to do it externally on a 100% commission basis, I now work internally at a digital agency. I much prefer the kind of environment I’m in now. In addition to worrying if I’d be able to pay next month’s rent, the people I used to to work with were sharks that didn’t care for helping people, only making their next deal. It is a high risk, high reward entrepreneurial pursuit that has a creative element to it, but is purely driven by capital.

While working as an outside recruiter, a lot of the people that’d been doing it for twenty plus years would use cliche phrases, acronyms and mottos on a daily basis. One that I heard all the time: A.B.C.: Always. Be. Closing. I didn’t know until I saw Glengarry Glen Ross that the acronym came from David Mamet’s play. This film adaptation features the same kind of characters I use to work with, and though this is about real estate sales, the cold pursuit of money hit close to home to my former work situation.

You don’t have to have a personal connection to this movie to enjoy it. It features one of the most stunning ensemble casts I can think of: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin and Ed Harris, all at the top of their respective game. There’s a whole lot of cursing and shouting (‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and their derivatives are uttered close to 200 times), but in between is razor sharp dialogue and outstanding performances. I had to Google after watching the movie “Jack Lemmon, Bryan Cranston” as I was amazed to see how much of Cranston’s Walter White was seemingly derived from Jack Lemmon’s performance in Glengarry Glen Ross. Something felt incredibly familiar while watching, and I’ve found that I’m not the first person to make the comparison.

I’m glad that Glengarry didn’t spend most of its time on the “who did it?” aspect. Few of these guys like each other, and seeing the vitrol thrown in every direction is fascinating, and also resonates true with my experiences in the past. When you’re whole livelihood depends on commission, the man that takes a dollar out of your pocket becomes your enemy. You don’t see the good qualities in them, or anyone around you. I’m not slamming salesman as a whole, but just the culture it fosters. Glengarry Glen Ross is a masterful example of what capitalism can do to a man and the men around him.


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