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July 14, 2002

Four real estate salesmen are in competition to see who can sell the most, with the sack facing the two losers.

Jack Lemmon. Kevin Spacey. Al Pacino. Alan Arkin. Ed Harris. Alec Baldwin. Jonathan Pryce.

Take a look at that cast again. I have to confess that before I became a movie snob, I watched this when it first came out in 1992. And hated every minute of it. I didn't appreciate the casting or the Mamet language, I just saw pathetic people unhappy with their chosen occupation. I'm glad I gave it another chance.

This is as close to a male acting clinic as you can find in a motion picture. Alec Baldwin does more with his three minutes of screentime than any actor ever has. Lemmon is so perfect as the disheveled former wonderboy that THE SIMPSONS now uses his character as their official 'bumbling salesguy' whenever they need to. Spacey was just a kid, but holds his own against these other guys. The interplay between Harris and Arkin as they talk about their honor and manhood is great, and though I'm no fan of Pacino's later work, he makes magic with the script here as he reels in mark Pryce.

This is obviously a stage play. They only need one set, really. And it's a bit old-fashioned as only Pacino has invested in a cell phone. But I can now appreciate just how perfect the performances were.

Jack Lemmon won Best Actor of 1992 award from the National Board of Review.
Al Pacino was nominated for Best Supporting Actor of 1992 by the Academy Awards.

9.0 Critical Consensus


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