Salesman (1968)

Salesman [1968]
Salesman [1968] – Image

“If a guy’s not a success, he’s got nobody to blame but himself.” A surprisingly engrossing, extremely low-budget documentary about door-to-door Bible salesmen, Salesman was directed by the Maysles brothers, Albert and David, as well as Charlotte Zwerin. Join the “Badger” (Paul Brennan), the “Rabbit” (Jamie Baker), the “Gipper” (Charles McDevitt) and the “Bull” (Raymond Martos) as they desperately try to pawn off a bunch of overpriced Bibles on the unsuspecting masses. Mostly, we follow the Badger, who is in a hell of a sales slump (“Could you say if this would help the family? Could you see where this would be of value in the home? A gain to you?”). Badger spends most of the movie acting like a whiny little bitch as he longs for the ever-elusive pension that will lead him to the good life (a condo on Miami Beach?). Full of dreary locales such as an endless succession of cheap motels and greasy diners, Salesman pierces the heart of the American Dream. Watching this entire thing eventually depressed the shit out of me and I kept thinking of a quote from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman: “To suffer fifty weeks a year for the sake of a two-week vacation.” Useless Trivia: Other classic Maysles documentaries include Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1976).

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