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Salesman

SALESMAN follows four door-to-door salesmen that walk the line between hype and despair as they ply across the American Northeast and Miami trying to sell expensive Bibles to low-income families.

Director: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
Year: 1968
Time: 90 min
Club Member Rating:
 Salesman
(1968) on IMDb

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Ways to Influence

Share this film with others. Discuss how the world has changed since 1968 and whether the changes are positive, negative, or a bit of both.

Consider how the need to make money impacts your life – and how much you really need in order to consider yourself “successful.”

Look at those around you who are struggling to keep their lives afloat. What could you do to help alleviate their struggles, even if in a small way?

Open your eyes to the fact that your community most likely is filled with fascinating older people who have wonderful stories to share about their lives. Seek them out and see how rewarding it can be to hear their stories of bygone times. Just by listening to their stories, you could give them a great gift.

Related Articles and Resources

IF I WERE A RICH MAN

“If a man’s not a success, he’s got no one to blame but himself.” According to Slant Magazine, the film quote above is “the myth of American self-determination boiled down to 14 words.”

Read the full review of SALESMAN, which grapples with often futile pursuit of the American Dream.

Albert Maysles’ Lifelong Friendship With Paul Brennan of SALESMAN

Watch this video as iconic filmmaker Albert Maysles speaks about his friendship with the main character of SALESMAN, Paul “The Badger” Brennan.

Salesman: A Horizontal Journey Through the Capitalistic Dream

Q&A with Albert Maysles as he reflects on the film and on Paul Brennan.

THE GIFT OF DOCUMENTARY

“I remember one time we got to the newsstand and the paper hadn’t arrived yet. My daughter aged five turns to me says, ‘The paper’s not ready because the people haven’t been killed yet.'”

Here’s Albert Maysles’ TEDx talk: The Gift of Documentary.

INFLUENCE FILM CLUB PLAYLIST

AM I A GOOD PERSON?
A set of six films exploring the blurry boundary between truth and lies, good intentions and plain deception.

Cinéma vérité

The Maysles brothers were huge proponents of Cinéma vérité documentary filmmaking. Listen as Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin discuss a cinema verite film, dissecting the specifics of shooting and editing such a piece. For Maysles fans, you can also find other recommended materials.

Salesman: a truly Millerian experience

SALESMAN is compared to both Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross”

What does the Maysles’ film and a Miller play have in common?

Find out in this article written by the Guardian in 2008. That SALESMAN was still being referenced and reviewed 40 years after its release is a true indication of its significance.

The Bronzer – One of the last traveling salesman

Stu Larkin is a dying breed: one of the last traveling salesmen left in America. He travels the country taking orders for bronzed baby shoes, which has been a popular American tradition for over 80 years.

This short documentary follows a quirky and passionate character as he provides a rare insight into his craft, human nature and small town Americana.

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