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