There are some amazing examples of cinema out there for your consumption. Glengarry Glen Ross, The Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, Death of a Salesman. Great pieces of art all of them. There’s just one problem. They’re all a bit bleak and depict actual crimes. Spoiler alert!
Glengarry, starring titans of film Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacy, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, exhibits a classic late night sales meeting, a great “salesman tells off sales manager” moment and the best “go to lunch” admonishment in film history. This is the tale of a sales force so beaten down that everyone is a suspect for raiding the office and stealing the leads.
Wolf of Wall Street tells the tale of convicted felon Jordan “sell me this pen” Belfort. Sure, there’s some great phone sales action here. I just wish the guy wasn’t demeaning his customers with jerk off motions while he does it. Oh, and the not so small matter of the fraud he committed. Don’t be like this.
In Boiler Room, an industrious yet rudderless Giovanni Ribisi, sets aside his illegal underground casino to work a phone room selling phony stocks. The highlight here is when he takes a call from a newspaper subscription telemarketer and coaches him into actually selling the paper. No Dice! Giovanni reads the Times. Great lesson in rejection here. Sometimes you lose even if you say the right things. Ultimately, it ends badly for everyone in the boiler room.
Death of a Salesman, written by great American playwright Arthur Miller and performed on film by Dustin Hoffman and John Malkovitch (with hair!). This is a horrible tale of a philandering man who has valued his sales relationships over his real life ones only to find at the end of his life that he’s worth more dead than alive. Good news! He pays off his mortgage… bad news he dies committing insurance fraud to accomplish this.
Ok, so that’s the bad and the ugly are there any good examples?
I’d submit Tommy Boy. There are some great moments and a lot of laughs. Best of all, Tommy is a pure hearted, hard working, and lovable guy. He doesn’t make the sales by cheating. In fact, he grinds, he learns, he follows up with prior customers. He learns from the giants that came before him. Great, great stuff and a classic outing by Farley and Spade. Speaking of hard work, did you know they filmed this during downtime while working on SNL? A job notorious for its rigorous schedule and lack of downtime. Come for the Listicles, stay for the Fun Facts!