Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – Film Review

glengarry glen ross film review (1)

Director: James Foley
Cast: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin
Certificate: 15

By Sarah Morgan

Fancy watching a film charting two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen?

glengarry glen ross film review (3)That doesn’t sound like the most enthralling offer ever made, and yet director James Foley’s big screen adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play (scripted by Mamet himself), is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies of the 1990s.


Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and Alan Arkin play the quartet, each very distinct characters. Pacino plays the top man, the brash, fast-talking Richard Roma, who seems to bamboozle his clients into parting with their cash via smart words and shallow anecdotes.

Lemmon is Shelly, an ageing once great operator who is pretty much washed-up and distracted by personal problems. Harris and Arkin are Moss and Aaranov respectively, one aggressive, the other milder and less confident.

Into their world comes Blake (Alec Baldwin), a super-confident executive from head office who announces a competition – that month’s two top salesmen will win prizes, while the bottom two will lose their jobs.

A desperate scramble to secure deals ensues. Moss hits on the idea of stealing a list of potentially lucrative leads from the office of their manager Williamson (Kevin Spacey), but knows he would be the prime suspect, so attempts to convince Aaranov to carry out the crime.

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The robbery does indeed take place, but it’s not until later that we discover whodunit during a fascinating climax.

There is little wonder that the screenplay attracted so many wonderful actors (Jonathan Pryce appears too, as Pacino’s somewhat reluctant client); it features brilliant lines and scenes for all involved, with Lemmon, in one of his last great roles, a real standout.

You can feel the desperation in Shelly’s futile and somewhat pathetic attempts to sell land, weaving threadbare lies into his patter that nobody is going to believe.

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Even the smaller roles are brilliantly drawn; Baldwin appears in only one scene, but still manages to create a believable and utterly hateful character. Interestingly, despite his actions being pivotal to the plot, Blake does not appear in the original play, he was written specifically for the film.

Mamet’s work is always hard-hitting and uncompromising, and that is certainly the case here. The testosterone-fuelled atmosphere and downbeat nature of the story won’t be to everybody’s taste, but there’s no doubting the story’s power.

Among the special features is an in-depth interview with director James Foley, as well as a priceless audio commentary from Lemmon. Look out too for a tribute to the veteran, much-missed actor among a variety of documentaries included on the disc.

Special Features:
  • A conversation with director James Foley
  • “God Bless Ricky Roma” Actor Joe Mantegna remembers working with David Mamet
  • Audio commentary with James Foley
  • Audio commentary with actor Jack Lemmon
  • “A.B.C. (Always Be Closing)” documentary (SD)
  • Magic Time: A tribute to Jack Lemmon (SD)
  • Limited Edition Booklet: Includes ‘Death of a Fuckin’ $ale$man: Defining an American Dramatic Tradition’ by Rich Johnson and ‘Glengarry Glen Ross and The All-American Loser’ by Andrew Graves
Glengarry Glen Ross is released on Blu-ray by 101 Films

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