While laboring to sell a gold-embossed version of the Good Book, Paul Brennan and his colleagues target the beleaguered masses—then face the demands of quotas and the frustrations of life on the road. A landmark American documentary.
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The Maysles brothers and Charlotte Zwerin's documentary portrait of down-and-out Bible salesmen brilliantly conveys an atmosphere of desperation - with its effective, gritty black and white photography and fascinating characters. Despite some very compelling moments, it does go on too long (it gets off to a very slow start) and never quite reaches the heights you'd expect it to. Still, a very interesting documentary.
More than 40 years after its release, SALESMAN is an interesting account of the American life in the late 60's. Not once is the word Vietnam pronounced during the film. I liked the scene with the man playing Yesterday on a tape recorder while one of the salesmen is about to have the contract signed by the man's wife. Also great is the speech of a vice-director justifying his business by quoting the Bible.
One of a selected handful of films that I can genuinely say has changed my life. The film really touched me and spoke to me in an intimate way, seeing the miserable bible salesman made me realize how unhappy I was at a job I was working at, and I left it shortly after seeing Salesman.
Interesting film, one of the best character studies. Salesmen echos modern times boldly, people just want to connect and survive--the salesmen will go to any length to sell an unnecessary product and the individuals will invite anyone into their home who will give them the time of day. Given safety and society has shifted a bit, the key pieces are still the same. Well worth the watch.
A beautifully filmed documentary shot through with humanity and care for the individuals that it follows, something that most modern documentary makers miss in their pursuit of the cheap laugh or shock. The final scenes of the film, with Paul visibly coming apart at the seams and giving up, is one of the most heart-breaking moments I've seen.
The Maysles' (and co.) paint another picture of America, but instead of portraits of high class dropouts (Grey Gardens) or hippie nightmare landscapes (Gimme Shelter), they focus their brush on the working class of the States. In this instance, that happens to be door to door bible salesmen. The documentary is interesting, but nearly as much as the previously mentioned films. Still, a solid work.
did you know they sold bibles for 50 dollars in the 60s? the first maysle brothers documentary i'm seeing. it simultaneously made me want these men to really sell these bibles to these poor people so they could make a living but also get the hell out of their lives because that is absolutely absurd. it's like an indie film. something that's abstractly uninteresting is strangely gripping, to me.
"I guess that's the thing in everything. If you don't scoop it up, you don't win, huh?" I have minor issues about the fly-on-the-wall Maysles style here—not that I think it's ethically dubious, just that I was slightly distracted by questions of what I wasn't seeing, how the filmmakers' presence affected the affair