Salesman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Salesman Reviews

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½ November 26, 2016
Something I didn't know much about.
April 24, 2016
Whilst it's slow and its style hasn't aged brilliantly, 'Salesman' remains an important entry in the world of documentary film thanks to its in-depth look at, you guessed it: salesmen.

I hate sales jobs- everything about them. I was a street fundraiser for a charity one summer and I was miserable. Even for a good cause, I couldn't bring myself to take money from people. Well, some people are good at it and that's really the focus of this film. It's fascinating how relevant the film remains today, given that I, at 23 years of age, could easily relate it to many of my own experiences. Bible salesmen might not be around much these days (at least not where I live) but the story is the same.

It's a human drama really- the pressure of adulthood and the workplace, pressure to confirm, the power of social status, buying something to fill the void- whatever, it's all there. The most interesting element for me, however, was the moral quandary of it all- how, in the end, do you justify trying to meet your target? You know what you're selling isn't worth it but you go for the hard sell anyway- that's the real kicker with this film.

One scene that really brought it home for me was when one of the salesmen tries to sell a collection of bibles to a woman who had recently moved to America- she often didn't even understand what he was saying. He'd essentially pushed his way into her house and taken up her time and, even as it was clear that she was quite confused, he continued to just try and get to her purse. Fortunately, in that case, he was (eventually!) sent home packing. Watching that unfold on film is simply remarkable and yet, I can tell you from experience, that it happens in countless people's homes to this day, 24/7
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January 22, 2016
There should be more films like this. It was like watching a memory.
½ August 17, 2015
A classic and important documentary directed by the genius Maysles Brothers. The cinema verite classic has tons of influential filmmaking techniques, that make it one of the most important documentary films of all time. The film is very sad in it's portrayal of struggling salesmen who try to sell expensive bibles to poor families and get rejected. The film makes you feel awful for both the failing salesmen and the poor families they visit.
July 10, 2015
I found this more funny than depressing, and also very instructive in how to deal with people, get what you want, and not be a tool. The American Dream is still very much alive, and worth trying for -- you just can't let it consume you. The successful men in this movie make the system work for them, and -- most importantly -- stay positive. The Badger's problem is that he obviously has depression, and that has never helped anybody achieve anything. It must be fought and subdued at all costs. In the commentary, Albert Maysles suggests that the Badger was not cut out for sales and should have been a postal clerk, even though the Badger rails against the predictability of a 9-to-5 office job with a pension. This is another important lesson of Salesman: Get in where you fit in. Do work that suits your temperament and abilities.
½ February 3, 2015
A singular documentary that makes you very thankful that you are not selling Jesus on the HP.
September 10, 2014
Purposely uncomfortable at times, ''Salesman'', by the Mayles brothers, opens up alienation in the most genuine way.
June 23, 2014
An interesting documentary looking at the life of a bible salesman. Not only do you get a personal look at all the salesman and the art of their profession, but you also get to see the ups and downs of the salesman life.
December 16, 2013
Salesman was a groundbreaking work in documentary feature film history, where the legendary Maysels brothers took the cameras on the road and followed a group of Bible salesmen. Once again, their careful choice of an interesting subject paid off in what is rightly regarded as a milestone of direct cinema. The language of the film simply differentiates itself from previous documentaries, as the film feels like a narrative feature with comedic and dramatic elements that give it a much greater and more accessible appeal. As mentioned before, the subjects themselves with their varied colourful personalities makes the film entertaining and engaging all throughout.
September 29, 2013
Like many Meley's documentaries, this feels melancholy and seems as if not that much is going on, but, like all of their work, is so engaging and really keeps you thinking after the initial viewing. I've never seen such consistently haunting documentary filmmakers; their films just stick in my head for days.
½ December 15, 2012
This doc feels surprisingly contemporary in its following of several bible salesman. It shows everything from the door-to-door pitches, to the salesman conventions, to the personal frustrations. The Maysles allow the story to tell itself, often sitting in particularly awkward situations and letting things play out on their own.
½ December 3, 2012
It's not as good or enlightening as reputed, but anyway watch it instead of Mad Men.
½ October 4, 2012
Sad documentary following the life of door-to-door bible salesmen, who try their best to push a $50 bible onto lonely housewives 1966. As sad as it is revealing about the day-to-day struggle of the mid-to-late 60s, the Maysles Brothers are somehow able to make us compassionate for these men, and yet disgusted by what they do.
½ July 1, 2012
Documentary. Bible salesmen. 1960s.
December 17, 2011
One scene has the bible salesman at a Sales Conference. Getting pep talks from superior employees, getting chewed out by the boss and then "Dr. Melbourne I. Feltman" talks about how the salesman should feel proud and privileged to help others out by selling bibles to them. The reaction shots of the men in that meeting are absolute gold. The entire film is sandwiched back to back with scenes of painful tragic comedy. One of the best documentaries i've seen.
November 8, 2011
A masterpiece. A documentary about bible salesmen that feels as though Cassavetes directed it. You just watch someone fail miserably right in front of your eyes without the ability to look away. It's a must see, for sure.
September 1, 2011
Pretty much nothing more classic than a bunch of overweight, unhealthy, exhausted drunken salesmen selling expensive, over graphiced bibles to poor lower middle class housewives who can barely afford to feed their family.

A real gem, and measure that documentary genre is wide open for eclectic characters and human stories like this; regular people trying to make a living doing what they do best.
August 12, 2011
How many hours of footage tracking these four bible salesmen did the Maysles Brothers actually shoot to be edited into this can't-look-away portrait of sourness in a hard-luck profession? A true capsule of the 1960s that, like Grey Gardens, through its cinĂ (C)ma vĂ (C)ritĂ (C) methodology somehow allows people to reveal a seemingly unguarded part of themselves for the camera.
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