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Glengarry Glen Ross
10th Anniversary Special Editon

review by Zach B.



Rated: R (For Language)

Running Time: 100 minutes

Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce

Screenplay by: David Mamet
Based upon his play

Directed by: James Foley


Studio: Artisan

Retail Price: $24.99

Disc 1: Scene-Specific Audio Commentary with Director James Foley, Magic Time: A Tribute To Jack Lemmon
Disc 2: ABC "Always Be Closing", J. Roy: New and Used Furniture, Scene-Specific Audio Commentaries with Juan Ruiz Anchia, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin and Jane Musky, Clip Archive - The Charlie Rose Show, Clip Archive - Inside The Actors Studio, Cast and Crew Biographies, Production Notes

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, 1.33:1 Full Screen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English DTS 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (24 Scenes)

Released: November 19th, 2002



David Mamet may be known to film buffs for the screenplays he has written (as well as directed) and his cracks at adapating work for the screen ("Wag The Dog" and "Hannibal," anyone?). Yet to everyone else, he's known as one of the greatest contemporary American playwrights. Most of Mamet's work is really character driven, pointing out common values and what drives people, let alone what brings them together. That's probably the reason why most of Mamet's work either written directly for the screen or adapated from his own stage writing feels more enclosed, just like a stage play.

I've seen a lot of Mamet's film work and have read a lot of his stuff, and he really is one of my all time favorite writers. Just as it so happens, "Glengarry Glen Ross" is also one of my favorite plays of all time, let alone probably my favorite piece of Mamet. The film is a pretty close, if somewhat slightly expanded, adapatation of Mamet's 1984 pulitzer prize winning play. Centering around real estate salesmen at Premiere Properties, elder salesmen Shelley Levene (Jack Lemmon), Dave Moss (Ed Harris) and George Aronow (Alan Arkin) have hit a slump in their sales. It's not that they aren't good at what they do, it's that their leads are terrible.

Soon, the men are threatened with a certain kind of contest that is directly linked with their sales: first prize is a car, second prize is a set of steak knvies and third prize is that you are fired. Naturally, the men all want their jobs and need to rake in the most sales. But that's pretty hard without the Glengarry leads, prime leads that lead to gold. Those are reserved for the best, such as top selling hot shot Ricky Roma (Al Pacino). With all the tension and stress, someone soon decides to break in to the office and steal the leads. From there, the lives of these salesmen will unravel and much more will be answered than "Who stole the leads?"

Many people bill "Glengarry Glen Ross" as a comedy, which I find pretty surprising, since I really think it stands more as a drama. It does have some amusing moments, but at its hearts lies men of different kinds of desperation. It is the true work of a salesman I suppose, the whole "every man for himself" work ethic, let alone their shark-like tactics, misdemenors and how much as well as how sneaky their lying can be when it comes to how they work and how they achieve certain success. Whether the characters moral standards are wrong or right is something the audience must take into account, but in all, the pursuit of the American dream is explored in such a wonderful fashion in "Glengarry Glen Ross." How Mamet explores his characters and their desperation for money and success in such a cruel world is something that many of us can relate to. The jealousy of Moss, the bitterness of Levene, the superiority factor that Roma tends to create and how what happens all interlocks them, what they are each personally going through and their own jobs is just so clever. Like usual, Mamet gives room for plenty of development within its characters, gives the story a good pace and always keeps things going, always adding something new or something to pick up as it all comes together. It might be several character studies, it might make a statement on

Mamet is certainly the master of contemporary dialogue. It's pulled off here with ease from the actors, but I have read the original play, and there all the tounge-twisting seemed much harder. I actually prefer Mamet's screenplay to his original play, probably because he added a bit more touches to everything and that it feels expanded within the structure and locations. The play only took place at the Chinese restauraunt and at the office, but here, a lot of it jumps back and forth between those two places as well as different locations, such as street exteriors and an added scene with Levene at a potential buyer's home. More background is offered in the film than the play which I really liked, as I think the film is far more accessible. The expansions, even if they can be slight, really add more to the brilliance of Mamet's tale.

As much as I love all the elements to "Glengarry Glen Ross" - the story, its characters and its dialogue - and while it still does rank as probably my favorite piece of Mamet, I still find it rather predictable. That is not to say it has you on the edge of your seat and that it is not entertaining, but I found Mamet's foreshadows a bit too obvious and with that, his false set-ups to throw the audience off track is also a bit too obvious for my tastes. However, that's just me, and I'm sure some of you, many of you in fact, probably feel the exact opposite. None the less, how it's all handled is still very well done because Mamet keeps the dialogue, the characters and the overall tone constant.

James Foley, who seems to have gone to entertainment industry oblivion, does a fine directing job with the movie. His shots, in part thanks to director of photography Juan Ruiz Anchia, might be standard, but the isolated and crowded look that is upon the movie to symbolize the story and plights of the character is certainly something to admire and is certainly something that shines through.. The film's editing is also very careful, while the production design from Jane Musky hits you downright hard with its gritty realism in the cramped offices and the secluded booths of the Chinese restauraunt.

I have saved the best for last though. "Glengarry Glen Ross" features one of the finest acting ensembles ever put to the screen. I still find it hard to believe that Al Pacino was the only one awarded an Oscar® nomination for his work here. To be honest, when I was first watching the movie, I didn't exactly see why he got the nod. But once the first hour mark passes, it all comes together and to life. Pacino's portrayl of Ricky Roma is flawless and scathing; he perfectly captures the character's strong ambitions. Jonathan Pryce's small role is wonderfully subdued, while Alan Arkin plays it very straight and quite surpressed, just as the role calls for.

I simply loved Ed Harris as Dave Moss as he truly explores the character's jealous and bitter nature to the extreme. Alec Baldwin's performance in just a single scene is jawdropping brilliant and downright entertaining and Kevin Spacey is so well-rounded and so damn sharp really showing off his character's tough, no non-sense exterior. Finally, we have the late Jack Lemmon (also Spacey's mentor) who I believe not only steals the show, but gives one of the best performances of his career. How Lemmon shifts the mood up and down between Levene's character is remarkable, from pre-success to post-success to then a sense of failure after he is revealed crucial information at the end, let alone what happens during the course of the film. There is some bitterness yet, but there is also so much excitment and so much desperation to prove himself and make things happen. Lemmon will truly be missed for generations to come.

"Glengarry Glen Ross" is a wondrous story based on a wondrous play that is truly a wondrous film. Besides Mamet's excellent characters, sharp dialogue and amazing story that really shows the audiences something, the acting is nothing short of amazing and technically it is well put together. If you have never seen this great film before, then it is well worth checking out - especially for those of you who like substance in what they are seeing, David Mamet and flawless acting.


Artisan's long awaited DVD edition of "Glengarry Glen Ross" arrives with two transfers: a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 1.33:1 full screen transfer. Both look pretty nice, even if the full screen transfer suffers from a lot of cropping as the film captures a lot of intricate, wide shots. The transfers feature strong black levels (which is a must considering the film's night settings), pretty good detail and rather nice fleshtones. Color saturation is also very nice, especially for such a drab color scheme of blues, blacks, whites and greys (which probably is quite intentional).The print itself is also spotless, but the print is also rather grainy and even a tad bit murky at times. In all, it could be a bit sharper... but when it comes down to it, the transfers perfectly reflect the film's content, characters and themes. Nicely done.


Artisan has presented a few sound mixes for the release, and while they don't break any new ground, anyone who checks out the film on DVD should be pleased with what's offered. An English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is offered and is pretty fantastic given the material. Like most of Mamet's work, "GlenGarry Glen Ross" is heavy when it comes to its characters, so one must expect a ton of talking. Thankfully, all the dialogue in the film sounds quite clear and crisp with no distortion or interference. James Newtown Howard's melancholy, jazzy score sounds wonderful through the channels while surround effects - which mostly comes through the use of background talking, doors slamming and all that rain pouring - add a lot more punches and effect then you'd probably believe. It all comes together quite nicely, where nothing overpowers anything else. Subwoofer use isn't too major, but is pretty great when it is used.

Artisan has also done an English DTS 5.1 remix. It's nice to offer the consumer something they'd probably enjoy and to put on just for the sake of being there, but to be honest, I had a hard time finding differences between the Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS tracks. They're very similar in structure. Personally, I preferred the Dolby Digital mix actually. It was louder, it sounded a tiny bit sharper to me and overall dynamics sounded more natural to me. Still, the DTS is here and good for what it is if you'd like it, though I thought it sounded a bit low.

Also included are English subtitles, Spanish subtitles, English closed captions, a French Dolby Surround track and an English Dolby Surround track. As you'd expect, the Dolby Surround tracks are much more limited but given all the dialogue, it's pretty straight forward but is better than you might expect.


It's probably not as packed as you think, but it's nice to see that Artisan went out of their way as best as they could for this tenth anniversay special edition of the film. On the first disc, we have a Scene-Specific Audio Commentary with Director James Foley. He doesn't talk throughout the whole film, but rather, you can access certain segments via the menu that are broken up into three different parts: "On Directing," "About the Screenplay" and "Rehearsal." Foley certainly offers a lot of enthusiasm and praise, and for some director who really hasn't made too much of a name for himself in the past couple of years, he does act like his film is the best one ever made, even calling himself "brilliant." Foley's commentary is really more of a "how-to" deal, but for some reason, instead of finding his comments knowledgable or insightful, I found most of the washy and mechanical despite all his passion. He offers some unique perspectives on making the movie and some interesting stories that really aren't new, but I found himself rambling on pointlessly and going in circles. Everything seems to revolve around him in some fashion, even when he does talk about other people involved, which I find to be a shame. It's basically all talk without much detail, and when there is, it's not quite candid or interesting. I think Foley did a nice job directing the movie, but after listening to this, it really makes me wonder if he was actually fully understanding Mamet's work, the actors and everything else involved. Apparently he must have since the film is good, but the man bullshits too much here. If this was a full track, I probably would have exploded from all the hot air Foley was blustering out. It has its moments, but in all, only die-hard fans of the film should listen to this, but I doubt they'll get much out of it. I know David Mamet's not into extras or anything, but one would wish he did a commentary of sorts or talked about his famous work to some extent.

The only other feature on the first disc is Magic Time: A Tribute To Jack Lemmon. This is a nice, if somewhat fluffy tribute to one of the world's greatest actors (at least in my opinion). Interviews with his son Chris, Peter Gallagher, TV's James Lipton and a few others recall their favorite Lemmon performances, moments and tell quite a few stories. This tribute ends with an "Inside The Actor's Studio" segment where Lipton asks his famous ending questions to Jack Lemmon. Nice stuff, but to be honest, I wish there were more people to talk about such an extradoniary man. It lasts a good half-hour and is anamorphic widescreen.

The second disc, besides housing the full frame version of the film, also hosts quite a few other supplements. ABC "Always Be Closing" is a half-hour featurette that features interviews with real salesman (plus one or two from the movie, such as Alan Arkin), discussing salesmen in general, their tactics and basically themselves as far as personality, including some nods to Arthur Miller's own Willie Loman. Some might be bored by what this offers and the sporadic film clips, offered toward the end, don't enhance things so much. But some of these guys are so good in what they do, and as a result, offer interesting life parallels, thoughts and stories. Others, of course, are not as interesting. If you liked the film, then this might be worth checking out. It's also in anamorphic widescreen.

J. Roy: New and Used Furniture is some mini-documentary on salesmen in the furniture industry. It's supposed to look like an old, classic newsreel of sorts. I found it amusing, but to be honest, I don't know if this is some faux-documentary film aimed to make a point or if this is actually real from decades ago. It's in full frame, and lasts a few seconds under nine minutes. There's not to much to this, but if you're in the mood and want some salesmen stuff, you might as well check out.

Probably the best extras are the Scene-Specific Audio Commentaries with Juan Ruiz Anchia, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin and Jane Musky. Each offer interesting perspectives on making the film, as two are actors, Musky is the production designer and Anchia was the director of photography. Playing over the full frame version of the film in specific scenes, Anchia has a thick accent but he offers some pretty cool comments on his background and how he went about shooting the film. His comments are pretty technical yet quite fascinating as well as insightful. If you're interested in how a film like "Glengarry" was shot and what he did, then give him a listen. I also really enjoyed Alec Baldwin's comments, as he talks about his part in making the movie, what acting means to him and also praises a certain Lemmon scene. Arkin's commentary focuses more on improv, his approach to the character, how the movie exactly wasn't "fun," as well as his approach to taking the role. Arkin is also quite insightful in what he says and I really agreed with his comments, how all of us really are "always selling." I wish Baldwin and Arkin commented on the whole film, because they really have a lot of great stuff to say and are some of the best actor-based commentaries I've had the pleasure of hearing (actor commentaries usually get a bad rap). Finally, Musky also gives background on herself, how she designed the office in a character kinda way, stuff in the Chinese restauraunt, making the office look like a mess after the robbery scene and much more. She gives a very nice perspective in her part to creating such mesmerizing shots and how they helped the story.

There are also two nice little video features. Clip Archive - The Charlie Rose Show has Jack Lemmon talking about the film and role with Rose for a good ten minutes or so while Clip Archive - Inside The Actors Studio features Kevin Spacey being approached by a young actor asking to perform the "go to lunch" dialogue bit with him. That's quite fun, actually. Cast and Crew Biographies and some interesting as well as informative Production Notes round out the extras.


A wonderfully realized and complex classic about man's vast integrity (be it in business or morally), "Glengarry Glen Ross" still stands as one of my absolute favorite Mamet screen adapatations and one of my favorite plays of all time. Artisan does not disappoint with this much anticipated DVD release. Topped with strong transfers, good sound mixes (even if the DTS one seems a bit superfluous to have) and ample supplements that are great in quality to make up for quantity, this is a must buy for any fan of the film.