Archive for Glengarry Glen Ross

Movies I Almost Missed… Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Posted in Movie Reviews, Opinion with tags , , , , on October 20, 2016 by ThommyMac

LevineIsBUSTED

OK, this is a biggie and it was thanks to my dearly departed and very sadly missed younger brother Tony that I saw it. He turned me on to it as well as the original Robocop*, I had zero intention of seeing either. He rarely said “No, you will really dig it” so when he did, I would. Good ol’ IMDB says:

An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office. (Maybe why it didn’t reach the audience levels it deserves.)

Director: James Foley Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin

Sometimes when a play is made into a film, the cast and director fit so well as a team and run with the material so that the sum really is greater than the parts. And what a team! Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Al Pacino are in the zone, pretty much in that order. Surprisingly (to some) Alec Baldwin is absolutely p-e-r-f-e-c-t in his small role. For some reason that role doesn’t seem much of a reach, hence it’s realism and believability. Kevin Spacey does what he does best, which is hold his own. Looking at the cast that he is “holding his own” with shows how he got his reputation. I did not realize how many folks have missed this gem. Willy Loman’s rat race was a conga line compared to what these cats faced, let alone what sales must be like in our so-called information age. “Oh come on, what’s the point? What’s the f*ing point? in any case I gotta argue with you, I gotta knock heads with the cops, I’m busting my b*lls selling your dirt to deadbeats”

As a one-time owner of a one-man IT company, I hit a voice over IP webinar that, who knows how, got my cell phone number. The sheer numbers of sales calls generated by that one slip-up was amazing to behold. If you had the same problem due to attending one by a clip joint who pretends it assists nonprofits, my user name at Gmail is a good way to get a hold of me. It’s in the Philly area and had to change its names, allegedly because folks were getting wise to them. The reason I bring that up is the horrible desperation that hangs over most salesman. By “men” I mean “human” which embraces female as well. Before I forget the movie does NOT have any of the usually pleasant “B“s such as bare breasts, blood, bodies, or beasts. What it does have is an awful lot of swearing. I don’t mind but it does have as much as a Tarantino film. I do mind all the “C” words being bandied about. I understand not everyone grew up in the south side of Pittsburgh way back when it was allegedly a tough neighborhood but calling someone any of the “C” words in my day? It was generally a warning to put up your dukes. Then again, nowadays a simple fistfight will get you charged with simple assault. Then you’ll even have to pay for the counseling of the punk who started it but called the cops after he lost. **embarrassed silence** Or so I have heard. “Get on the phone to Pittsburgh. American Express there and tell them Mr. Morton is on the one o’clock.”

In the ‘Premier Properties’ office, where 90% of the story takes place, there is an old time dot matrix banner. It’s on the left, hanging on the wall above the window into Williamson’s office. It is with no little irony the words are “Salesman are born not made.” As a long time IT guy for a variety of endeavors, I have seen many positions and departments in action. Sales is a world unto itself but there seems to be three distinct types of salesman. Before we go any further I should say that I genuinely admire successful sales people. Like any hack politician, I could say some of my best friends work in sales. OK, time to move on. The first is what all of them aspire to be as personified by Ricky Roma. A smoothie, naturally born con man who can manipulate people the way an artist can put their imprint on a medium. Indeed, these guys and gals are artists and people are their medium. Sales quota? They haven’t missed one since they first heard their calling working the phones for a phone spam company. Maybe it’s the gullibility of the folks who actually buy tickets to those fireman or police benefit magic shows. “When I talk to the police I get nervous.”

Their first trick is absorbing 99% of the donation in admin costs. Then they go perfect their chops with a standard cattle call sales gig like working an automobile lot. They watch the newbies burnout their built in leads such as family and friends and then flame-out or fall by the wayside. After a gig or three they find their niche. Real estate, high end cars, software, or whatever needs moved and they can move it. I knew a salesman got his A.S. in programming but didn’t dig it much. It did give him some connections and he went on to sell enterprise level software way back when 3.5″ floppies were being phased out. During routine email archives I truly by accident saw one about his great job in landing some huge sale. His commission? $18,000 for that single sale and he was nailing them. Keep in mind this was back when your car couldn’t hold $20 worth of gasoline.They are born salesmen and stand on a pyramid whose base is made of failures and newbies. This leads us to the second class of salesman, “the failure”. Almost any who are not a “Ricky Roma” class salesman fall into this one. “A man doesn’t walk on the lot lest he wants to buy.”

Like Willy Loman, these deluded fools have always felt it is far more important to be liked instead of known. They have tried and tried but from Fuller Brushes to Real-estate Developments to Used Cars, they can’t make quota 3 fiscal quarters in a row. Before this seems hypocritical and mean-spirited, my past problems were self-medicating and now a dozen years in the past. These folks are either masochists or have a weaker grasp on reality than yours truly. Like Willy, they dream of the day when they can call buyers, line them up with sellers and make a mint with a phone call each morning. I used to want to play guitar and be a rock star but that was outgrown by my second year in the Army. The point is there is a talent requirement that just isn’t there and most of us know when we just ain’t got it. “They’re standing out there waiting to give you their money! Are you going to take it? Are you man enough to take it?”

Almost 20 years ago I walked in to do Saturday maintenance on the servers at the best job I ever had. We did it on Shabbat because, ironically, sales would cry they were finalizing some big deal on any given Friday. This was long before I became a practicing Jew but G-d wants us to earn a living, so 1 out 4 each month wouldn’t haver been too bad. Anyhow, that particular Saturday was a beautiful summer day. To this day, I don’t mind off-hour server maintenance. That day I knew if things went without a hitch, it would be over soon. No big updates or patches to cause any of the heartache that NT 4 was infamous for. Plus the drive to and from Oakmont, PA was along the very picturesque Allegheny River Boulevard and was usually a pleasant one. As was my habit, I went to each area to tell whoever was there I was taking the systems down. I would make an announcement over the PA after that physical verification. If it was end of quarter, there was even odds some poor sap would be in the sales department area, running on their self-made hamster wheel of pain. “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? (Holds up prize) Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired.”

On that particular Saturday the lone sales guy who was there about defecated when I told him I was taking the systems down. I remember it as if it were yesterday. He looked like the bald guy popular in commercials during my youth. He was the one who always ran out of Miracle Whip right before finalizing a sandwich. Being a kinder, gentler soul back then I patiently let him rant and then replied. “Guy, first off MIS does this every Saturday morning even on holiday weekends. Second, who are you going to reach on a Saturday morning? Seriously. Nobody important would be my guess. Third, if you are this close to quarter and not making quota, ruining a Saturday ain’t going to help. If I were in your shoes I would go play with the kids or walk in the park and leave the pain for Monday.” Instead of being touched, as I had hoped, he did the usual flurry of sales department bullshit. Sputtering about telling the VP on me, some deal worth a million bucks on the line, dedication, blah blah blah. For those wondering, in another quarter he was forced to walk the plank. Who are the third type?, you ask. They are one of the newbies who all hope to conquer the world. English or Art majors with student loans already on their backs, mostly. Almost all of them hope they are the one in a hundred “Ricky Romas”. All I can say to that is “Coffee is for CLOSERS

*Yes, his recommendation of the 1st Robocop was on the money as well.