Salesman - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Salesman Reviews

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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.
August 1, 2011
I stumbled across this film and really enjoyed it. It's a documentary made in 1968 and it's just loaded with sub text. It's not a feel good film, but it's one that you'll probably not be able to quit thinking about after you watch it because it will affect you on many different levels. It was one of the more evocative films I've seen in a long time.

It's done so well, you might forget you're watching a documentary. Everyone in it is so good and so believable. It's a reality show format that's about four decades ahead of its time.

It seems like the kind of film you can watch over and over and get something different out of it every time. It'll take you back to real, "real housewives" era. As for the men, it made me think of how many people hung on to horrible jobs back then because job hopping wasn't the thing to do. By the way, the guys who made this movie went on to make "Gimme' Shelter."
½ July 5, 2011
Important does not mean watchable.
½ July 4, 2011
a tad too contrived but will the real Willy Loman please stand up?
½ June 14, 2011
Oh God, I hate movies that are not a happy ending. but I don't skip watching them anyway because I learn from it.
May 13, 2011
A fascinating study of both the profession and of a radically different time and place than the one in which we live now.
½ April 11, 2011
Documentary. Bible salesmen. 1960s.
March 6, 2011
I'm sure the inspiration for Jack Lemmon's character in Glenberry Glen Ross and later the shit salesman from The Simpsons. Heartbreaking but real. Great Doc
½ January 8, 2011
The Maysles.

This is a documentary about door-to-door Bible salesmen, who hawk their wares on housewives (and occasionally their husbands) in late 60s Boston and Miami. Many times, I felt awful for the salesmen, with their index cards filled with potential leads (it sounds like they'd advertise at local Catholic churches, and the congregations were their targets), until I would watch them go to work on a poor, gullible woman and coerce her into committing to the sale. It's a sad, funny, fascinating look at a vanished profession and different world.

Boy, do I love the Maysles.
½ October 6, 2010
Tension in the room.
September 24, 2010
Amazing groundbreaking documentary that is sad on several fronts. On one front you see the death of a salesman. On the other you see the poor salesmen being taken for a ride with promises of riches in a dying market with the company bullying and berating those who do not produce. On the final front you see how these salesmen prey upon the poor and lower middle class hiding behind the disguise of piety and playing upon their faith. Who knew door-to-door Bible selling was this ruthless.
September 20, 2010
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.
½ September 14, 2010
A damning indictmant of a corporate world motivated by greed and preying on the desperate, the Maysles Brothers' "Salesman" follows a quartet of Bible salesmen as they make their living selling their overpriced wares to lower-income Catholic families that can barely afford them. The Maysles don't judge their subjects, however, and throughout the film, we even come to sympathize with them, and find that they're just mere cogs in the corporate machine. The beautiful black-and-white cinematography is another major asset.
May 29, 2010
My favorite documentary via the Maysles Bro's genius. If you need a refresher in cinema verite, check this out.
May 14, 2010
An absolutely groundbreaking documentary in its day, Salesman still holds up wonderfully today. The Maysles are masters of their craft, juxtaposing scenes with the utmost care and grace. There are times when Salesman actually feels like a fiction film, and all the better for it; with the presence of narrative, spectators are drawn in to the proceedings seemingly effortlessly. While the film looks to be cinema verite on its surface, Salesman actually presents a fascinating combination of verite and direct cinema. While the presence of the camera is sometimes acknowledged (typically something not done in standard verite), it's not done explicitly; the cameraman (Albert Maysles, in this case) feels as if he's part of the action, so the documentary becomes an interesting hybrid of the observational and participatory modes as defined by Bill Nichols. That, and it's beautifully shot and photographed; based on the camera angles, the Maysles effectively draw spectators in to the world of the documentary's subjects. Also, what's explored here is still shockingly relevant. Norman Mailer was right when he said that Salesman has a lot to say about American life. Thankfully, the film is still saying it loud and clear more than forty years later.
½ May 11, 2010
One of the stronger Maysles brothers films. They don't make them like this anymore. A very visceral feeling document of a now bygone era. A real window into the lives of others. It has stayed with me since I first saw it in a High School film class.
Super Reviewer
April 10, 2010
"Salesman" is a very effective cinema verite documentary from the Maysles Brothers about bible salesmen operating in Massachusetts and Florida on the surface. Unlike Jehovah's Witnesses, they are not selling religion. The targets are already believers who gave their names at their local churches. What they are really selling is status with the $50.00 bibles that can be bought with cash, C.O.D or, my personal favorite, the Catholic Honor Plan. All dollar amounts are from 1967, so this is an especially pretty penny. If you are a believer, then it is the words that count, not the packaging, unless you are trying to convince somebody else that you are wealthy enough to afford one which most of the people the salesmen talk to cannot. For these salesmen, victory comes in small bunches in this frustrating profession with its long hours on the job and nights in cheap motels. Some succeed like those that make $35,000 to $50,000 but they are rare, even as the bosses urge them that success is within their sights. And Paul Brennan, the center of attention, wonders if maybe he should have taken his family's advice to "join the force and get a pension" during one particularly bad week.
April 7, 2010
An unencumbered (mostly) look into the livelihoods and experiences of Bible salesmen in the 1960s. You'd think the book would sell itself, but apparently it was really hard.
½ March 30, 2010
salesman is a truly sad film. the maysles brothers used their approach of so called "cinema direct" to make the documentary and in its time was revolutionary to have no voice over leading the viewer to a certain conclusion. they let the images speak for themselves, but it still leads us to a particular conclusion. its a hard film to watch these bible salesmen use any tactics available to sell their product including guilt and coercion. yet they are still simply men trying to make a living.
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