Monday, April 18, 2011

#326: Salesman

1968, TSPDT Rank #578

From the masters and pioneers of cinema verite, the Maysles (and Zwerin), this is a depressing and funny documentary about men who sell bibles door-to-door. It's a profession that's faded, which is all the best, because what a pathetic life to lead. People talk about the women in Grey Gardens (another famous Maysles documentary) being mentally ill, but personally I think they are much healthier and better off than these men. They spend their lives going around and trying to beg people to buy books with clever sales tricks and at times use pity as a weapon. This film is hard to describe, but it's effect is one that really seeps through and gets under your skin as the film moves on. Which, in itself, is pretty remarkable - considering there's not a whole lot of variety in the events on hand, the Maysles just present the material in such a way that it really works. I'd recommend it, not quite as good as Gimme Shelter or Grey Gardens, but a standout in its own right.

(Rating: 7/10)

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