Glengarry Glen Ross - Alec Baldwin’s speech.

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Glengarry Glen Ross is not just a play about salesmen; it is a portrayal of greed, fear, deception, theft, loyalty, callousness and decay.  Set in the early eighties, focusing on four real estate salesmen in uptown Chicago, who are failing to meet their targets, and in doing so they are not given any good leads.  Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms are the real estate developments, with hot prospects.

So a motivation is enforced by the company (Mitch and Murray); for the top two salesmen to get to keep their jobs, with a Cadillac El Dorado for first place and a set of steak knifes for second place. Whilst the bottom two are fired. They are given seven days to close that deal, so the pressure is now on and the contest begins.

The play was such a huge success, that in the early nineties it was adapted for the silver screen, featuring a cast of legendary actors in their own right. Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and Alec Baldwin. With such stern performers and a strong storyline, it is little wonder that the film has also been a success, and continues to do so via DVD and Blue Rays sales.

It would be unfair to say who are the best actors, because be it Pacino or Lemmon, they all bring their unique talent and insight into their given role. Yet it is Alec Baldwin's "Motivational" speech that is mesmerizing. Even if it does not steal the film, it certainly helps to enhance the plot tremendously.

All the salesmen (Pacino, Harris, Arkin and Lemmon) are summoned to HQ to be addressed by salesman extraordinaire Blake (Baldwin) about their poor performances, as a favour to the faceless owners. Yet their top salesman Ricky Roma (Pacino) character fails to show for the meeting, as he is trying close a deal in a nearby bar on the naïve and vulnerable James Lingk (Jonathan Pryce). Also in attendance is their smug manager John Williamson (Spacey) who looks on at the failing salesmen with glee.

As the real estate men settled down before Blake and Williamson, Shelley "The Machine" Levene (Lemmon) goes to pour himself a coffee Blake harshly tells Levene to put that coffee down, as "coffee is for closers", he chuckles , Blake informs him that he is not fucking with him. They realise that Blake means business.

And so begins seven minutes of total character assassination of Dave Moss (Harris), George Aaronow (Arkin) and Levene by Blake. He pulls no punches, shows no mercy.

When asked by Moss "What's your name?", Blake informs him that "Fuck you, that's my name.", (only the viewer knows his name, as the characters are kept in the dark of his true identity) which is followed by the real estate salesmen being told that they are failures, whilst Blake shows off his designer watch, tells them the cost of his BMW, how much he made last year, $970,000, and he could close on the leads they have at their disposal. He is well and truly belittling the men.

Blake is aggressive in his deliverance, shoots out every word like a machine gun, killing all those in range. And when he reaches a crescendo, he then stops, allowing the words to sink in like a bullet wound. Then like a predator he hunts for his next victim, and the verbal assault begins, shooting down those that dare to answer him back. Blake has no fear, no sympathy, he is symbolic of greed and the methods to obtain and fulfil that goal.

Underneath the brutality of his speech, Blake does try to educate the real estate salesmen, by giving them sound sales advice ABC (Always Being Closing) and AIDA (Attention. Interest, Decision, Action), terminology that is still widespread in sales training today. Yet Blake feels that his words are wasted, as he is in a room of people he perceives as losers, and he makes that clear throughout his 'motivational' speech. As he winds down, with no sincere words of encouragement and descends into Williamson's Office, the real estate men are left shell shocked; only Moss seems to have the strength to pull the troops together.

Baldwin's brief yet powerful performance earned him an Oscar nomination. In addition, the character Blake doesn't appear in the original play, the part was especially written for Baldwin for the film, and after witnessing his monologue, we can certainly see why the director, James Foley, wanted to add this bit of magic to perhaps one of the most powerful seven minutes to ever come out of the world of film.

Read 7820 times Last modified on Wednesday, 07 August 2019 13:02
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