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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Glengarry Glen Ross: SE (1992)

"Get out there! You got the prospects coming in, you think they came in to get out of the rain?! A guy don't walk on the lot lest he wants to buy! They're sitting out there waiting to give you their money! Are you gonna take it? Are you man enough to take it?"
- Blake (Alec Baldwin)

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: December 02, 2002

Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce
Director: James Foley

Manufacturer: Deluxe Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: R for language
Run Time: 01h:40m:16s
Release Date: November 19, 2002
UPC: 012236114505
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A-A-B+ C+

DVD Review

I find that stage productions often translate poorly into motion pictures. The meticulous timing, pacing, and the sense of realism almost always becomes lost when viewed on screen. A rare exception is David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, an exploration of the harrowing world of high-pressure sales with a strong emphasis on the conniving nature of men who will do anything to close the deal. With its legendary dialogue delivered by an all star cast, this is an admirable adaptation that works tremendously well as a motion picture. Many of the cast and crew have firmly stated that they actually believe the movie to be far superior to the Pulitzer-Prize winning play.

As the film opens, we are introduced to the real estate salesmen of Premiere Properties. Shelley "The Machine" Levene (Jack Lemmon), Dave Moss (Ed Harris) and George Aaronow (Alan Arkin) are all in a career slump, while the only one who is closing any deals lately is Ricky Roma (Al Pacino). All of the salesmen gripe about how they are unable to sell due to insufficient "leads." Perhaps the new Glengarry list of leads will provide the spark needed to put them back on top. Soon, the sales team is thrust into an uncivilized sales meeting, emotionally pummeled by Blake (Alec Baldwin), the new hotshot sales manager from downtown. Blake continuously demeans, belittles, and destroys the already damaged integrity of these men with what could be considered as a militant-style pep talk. He dismisses them as deadbeat has-beens who cannot sell land to save their lives. He could give them the sought after Glengarry leads as a motivational tool, yet he exclaims that these "gold" leads would be wasted on this bunch of "losers." Instead, he proposes a contest, or rather an ultimatum; the sales force has one week to prove their worth with the "weak" leads that are currently available. First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, second prize is a set of cheap steak knives, while third and fourth prize result in termination from the firm.

Glengarry is less about what happens and why, as it is about witnessing David Mamet's brilliant dialogue flow through these renowned actors. Mamet has ingeniously adapted his own play and even enhanced it, particularly with the inclusion of the Blake character. From the opening frame to the closing credits, his dialogue is bitter and vulgar, yet always profound and sincere. Never before have I heard profanity turned into poetry quite like this. So meticulous was the creation of the screenplay that the actors took on the daunting task of reciting it word for word. Every syllable, stammer, stutter, and pause were scripted and learned by the ensemble. Ed Harris has asserted that this is certainly not the type of work one would want to paraphrase, while Alan Arkin has gone on the record to state that Mamet's work is even more exacting than that of Shakespeare.

One might think that constraining the actors so closely to the screenplay with no room for improvisation would result in unemotional and stale performances. Quite the contrary, these masterful performers give such depth to Mamet's work that the film sometimes feels like a documentary. At no point do any of their words or their body language feel contrived or unnatural. Each actor portrays his character with a conviction and passion that opens up the door to their withered souls. Every performance is Oscar®-worthy material, including an atypical performance from Jack Lemmon that proves to be one of the finest of his impressive career. The most surprising accomplishment comes from Alec Baldwin, whose brief yet pulverizing turn as Blake more than compensates for many of his other, lackluster roles.

Glengarry Glen Ross is a wittier title than one might initially think. I will refrain from divulging an explanation, but essentially, it insinuates that in the world of fast-talking shady deals, it all comes down to "What can you do for me now?" rather than "What have you done for me lately?" This depressing look at the sorrowful world of real estate sales is not the type of film that everyone will enjoy; it lacks the overt, brash approach found in most of today's Hollywood blockbusters. Yet, it is a throwback to the olden days of cinema, a pensive yet engrossing examination of human behavior. Those who crave a strong character-based film will undoubtedly be riveted by Mamet's unadulterated vision of immorality and misery.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: Glengarry Glen Ross was filmed using the Super 35 process, utilizing both widescreen and full-frame aspect ratios. Both aspect ratios are offered on this DVD, and both are exceptionally clean. While I typically feel that the widescreen presentation is the intended ratio, the full-frame ratio looks incredibly natural. Little visual information is lost on the sides, and the top and bottom of the frame add quite a bit to the aesthetic of the picture. While the widescreen version is still my preference, this is a rare example where the full-frame presentation is not only suitable, but also quite admirable. The image transfers are mostly excellent, bearing a few irritating inconsistencies. The nighttime scenes deliver rock solid blacks and remarkable detail, while the indoor scenes often appear slightly soft. Colors are bold and vibrant throughout, particularly the neon reds and greens that shine through dim interiors. Transfer-related artifacts are kept to a bare minimum, though they can be distracting when evident. For a catalog release, the picture quality exceeded my expectations, and fans of the film will certainly not be disappointed.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: For a strictly dialogue-driven film, I have to wonder why both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtracks were offered. Upon comparison, I detected little to no difference between the two. Aside from James Newton Howard's jazzy score and a few "L" train sound effects, the entire presentation sounds monaural. Fidelity, however, is top notch. Dialogue is crisp and clear with no signs of distortion. Voices sound so natural that I could almost believe the actors were in the same room with me. While not a terribly exciting mix, the simplistic nature of this soundtrack is pleasantly suitable.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Production Notes
2 Documentaries
3 Featurette(s)
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by director James Foley; cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, production designer Jane Musky
Packaging: Amaray Double
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:03m:19s

Extras Review: The long wait for Glengarry to arrive on DVD has been somewhat soured by this lackluster group of extras. While plentiful, there is little entertainment value in any of these special features.

Starting on disc one is Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon. This half-hour segment features interviews with a number of participants, including actor Peter Gallagher, Lemmon's son Chris, and Glengarry director James Foley. While many revealing stories are told, including several touching moments, I found myself wishing that this presentation had ended about the 10-minute mark. I cannot hide my admiration for the decision to honor this fine actor, but in addition to the lengthy running time, this piece does little to complement Glengarry Glen Ross.

Also included on disc one is an audio commentary from director James Foley. Foley discusses many facets of the production, but any interesting comments are too few and far between. Most exasperating is the fact that listening to the entire commentary is like trying to decipher an annoying easter egg. The track is divided into three segments with the option to "Play All." If all three segments are selected individually, only 25 minutes of the commentary is available, whereas the "Play All" feature will yield the full, one-hour commentary. Given that the commentary is scene select, it jumps sporadically from one scene to the next, sometimes cutting off Foley's comments! If the viewer desires to hear his full sentences, the commentary must be selected on-the-fly, after selecting "Play Movie" from the main menu. Confused yet?

Disc two begins with the 30-minute documentary, ABC: Always Be Closing. Featuring interviews with real life real estate salesmen along with various filmmakers of dramatic sales films, ABC documents the true lifestyle of real estate sales and how it was dramatized for Glengarry Glen Ross. Though often quite revealing, the running time is far too long, making for a somewhat tedious experience.

Next is the baffling J. Roy: New and Used Furniture. This dingy-looking film directed by Tony Buba is a complete mystery. Other than the fact that it tells the story of Jimmy Roy, a self-motivated salesman, I do not see how it relates to Glengarry Glen Ross at all. This is a pointless and dull inclusion with little merit.

Also on disc two is a bonus audio commentary featuring cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, and production designer Jane Musky. Each participant speaks solo for approximately 20 minutes, offering great insight into their craft and how they used their talents to approach the film's subject matter. Overall, this is more informative and enjoyable than Foley's commentary.

Next, are two clip archives. The first, and arguably the best special feature of all, is an excerpt of Jack Lemmon's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show. It is truly fantastic to hear this brilliant actor wax philosophic on Glengarry, preparing for his role as Shelley Levene, as well as his career in general. Though only a mere 10 minutes, a wealth of fascinating information is revealed in this snippet. The second clip is a three-minute excerpt of Kevin Spacey's appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio. While certainly not as informative as the Charlie Rose piece, Spacey provides hearty laughs as he reenacts a scene from Glengarry with a student of the Actor's Studio.

Closing the special features is an interesting set of production notes, as well as biographies and filmographies for the cast and crew. Be sure to also look for a humorous easter egg, located on the menu section of the special features.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Glengarry Glen Ross finally arrives on DVD with a spiffy new transfer that is more than satisfying. While the special features do not quite live up to the boasted special edition status, the film still proves to be a modern day classic. It should not take a high pressure sales pitch for anyone to buy this long awaited title.

 


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