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Glengarry Glen Ross


After a promising start, David Mamet's 1992 screen adaption of his own stage play GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS fails to create the incredible energy of its Broadway roots.

Mamet's greatest gift has always been his gift for adult, profane, staccato dialogue, punching you in the face with a torrent of words that are a gift to the right actors.

The perfect marriage of that combo is Alec Baldwin's opening scene as Blake, a "head office" honcho who arrives at a second rate real estate office to unleash hell on its employees.

His "ABC Always Be Closing" speech is legendary and Baldwin tears into every syllable with perfect delivery, cocky, intimidating, brutal.

He basically puts the entire office on notice that the worst performing salesman will be fired within days, turning their worlds upside down.

Jack Lemmon is terrific as Shelley Levine. With the phone connected to his ear and a never ending stream of bullshit pouring from deep within him, he's seeking the fire he held as a younger man, when he was the hero of the office. Lemmon pours desperation out of every pore like very few actors can. He's terrific.

Ed Harris and Alan Arkin are the ying & yang of the office, with Harris all verbal explosions and Arkin his quiet counterpart.

Al Pacino is Ricky Roma, current sales star, spilling sexist bravado and confidence with ease.

Jonathan Pryce is a customer caught up in the pitch and Kevin Spacey is the office boss, leading with questionable loyalty and graft.

For every effort that TV director James Foley makes to open up the play from its theatre roots, he somehow makes it feel more stage bound, with artificial looking street sets and endless rain pelted phone booths. Foley seems an odd choice for the material and doesn't really serve it well. He went on to direct two of the "Fifty Shades" movies, which speaks for itself.

With this incredible cast, its daunting to think what could have been created with a director like Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood) or James Mangold (Walk The Line) at the helm.

As it is, the film gallops out of the gate with Baldwin's opening scene and then progressively slows down, limping to its conclusion.

Mamet's writing remains brilliant. I saw it on Broadway in 2005 with Liev Schrieber, Alan Alda and Jeffrey Tambor and it was riveting from start to finish.

Maybe the fact that this version pales so badly next to that experience is why I'm giving the film a C.

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