“Glengarry Glen Ross” follows two extremely stressful days in the lives of a group of struggling real estate salesmen. Working from weak leads, three of the guys are finding it tough to bring in the numbers: Shelley “The Machine” Levene (Jack Lemmon), an old-school operator on a serious cold streak; Dave Moss (Ed Harris), a hothead with a chip on his shoulder; and George Aaronow (Alan Arkin), an amiable but slow-witted plodder without an ounce of killer instinct.
The only one not suffering is the office’s star salesman Richard Roma (Al Pacino), who has his hooks into a wealthy and gullible client. Roma is absent on the morning Blake (Alec Baldwin), a big hitter from head office, arrives to whip the boys into shape. The incentive? They’re all fired and now need to win their jobs back by closing some sales.
The added pressure doesn’t work quite the way intended. Instead, it provokes the disgruntled salesman to plot a burglary to steal some juicy leads and sell them to a rival company.
As a movie set mostly in one cramped location, “Glengarry Glen Ross” never quite dispels its stage origins. That matters little when you have a cast like this spitting venomous dialogue at one another, and it’s probably the best film about sales ever made. Even if sales aren’t your thing, it’s still a thing of joy watching these heavyweights spar with each other and get their chops around Mamet’s lines.
Pacino got the Oscar nomination for his turn as Roma, but Jack Lemmon is the real star of the show as the desperate old-timer Levene. It’s such a memorable performance that he even inspired Gil Gunderson in “The Simpsons,” the guy just looking for a lick at that shiny brass ring.