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Salesman

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Albert Maysles
David Maysles
Charlotte Zwerin
Produced by Albert Maysles
David Maysles
Cinematography Albert Maysles
Editing by David Maysles
Charlotte Zwerin
Distributed by Maysles Films
Release date(s) April 17, 1969
Running time 85 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Salesman is a 1969 direct cinema documentary film directed by brothers Albert and David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin.[1]

Contents

Synopsis

The documentary follows four salesmen as they travel across New England and Florida trying to sell expensive Bibles door-to-door in low-income neighborhoods. The film focuses in particular on the struggles of salesman Paul Brennan, an old Irish Catholic from Boston who struggles to keep up his sales.

Interviews and the salesmen

  • Jamie Baker - 'The Rabbit'
  • Paul Brennan - 'The Badger'
  • Raymond Martos - 'The Bull'
  • Charles McDevitt - 'The Gipper'
  • Kennie Turner
  • Melbourne I. Feltman
  • Margaret McCarron

Reception

When the film was first released, Vincent Canby, film critic for The New York Times, lauded the film and wrote, "...[the] documentary feature about four door-to-door Bible salesmen who move horizontally through the capitalistic dream. It's such a fine, pure picture of a small section of American life that I can't imagine its ever seeming irrelevant, either as a social document or as one of the best examples of what's called cinema vérité or direct cinema...It is fact, photographed and recorded with extraordinarily mobile camera and sound equipment, and then edited and carefully shaped into a kind of cinematic mural of faces, words, motel rooms, parlors, kitchens, streets, television images, radio music—even weather."[2]

Critic Dennis Schwartz had a different take and wrote, "It's a pathetic story about religion reduced to materialism as the aggressive Bible salesmen prey on the vulnerable to persuade them to buy a product they are reluctant to purchase. This engaging look at hungry Bible salesmen in action who are not adverse to lying to make a sale contrasts to the sanctimonious hyperboles set forth by the industry speakers at a sales convention in Chicago. It mocks the gullible public, the untrustworthy salesmen and the competitive concepts of capitalism that drives the human condition in America. This up close look at the anxious Bible salesmen trying to close the deal has become a cult classic documentary. The salesmen are not concerned about anything but selling as many Bibles as they can, which says a lot about our consumerism culture that we don't often hear in such an open way."[3]

Awards

In 1992, Salesman was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

References

  1. ^ Salesman at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Canby, Vincent. The New York Times, film review, April 18, 1969. Last accessed: May 9, 2008
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, January 21, 2007.

External links

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