Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris
Director: James Foley
James Foley’s rain- and neon-drenched adaptation of David Mamet’s classic play about sleazy real estate salesmen pitted against other, with the most successful getting prizes and the loser getting canned, has one of the best ensemble casts you’ll ever see on film. The play presents a dog eat dog world, and it must have been dog eat dog on set too with this lot stealing scenes from under each other’s noses.
There’s Alec Baldwin as the sadistic exec who lays down the law and reminds them, none too politely, that it is their job to “get them to sign on the line that is dotted.” There’s Ed Harris’ Ed Moss, who preaches workers’ solitary and standing up to the bosses, and then pressures one of his colleagues into robbing the office while setting himself up with an alibi. There’s Al Pacino’s Ricky Roma, a more plausible and smooth character, who bamboozles his marks with New Age philosophy and psychobabble and copious amounts of drink, but who, when pressed, turns out to be just as much of a shark as anybody else.
And then there’s Jack Lemmon in his last great film role – Shelley “The Machine” Levene. Unless everyone’s being ironic, the name suggests past glories, but he’s on a long losing streak, and you can see why. The voice is still oily and smoothly convincing, but the patter is out of date, his clothes are unpressed, and his eyes are little flabby holes of desperation.
Foul-mouthed and brutal, Glengarry Glen Ross is a nightmare vision of the dark side of the American dream and a super-heated drama about men under pressure. It’s also a wonderful showcase for the cutting power of Mamet’s slangy dialogue, and for best of American acting.