Salesman (1969)

Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin

Cast: Paul Brennan, Charles McDevitt, James Baker, Raymond Martos, Kennie Turner

This ground-breaking documentary follows a group of salesmen as they go door to door, trying to sell expensive Bibles to working-class families, most of whom cannot afford them.


The Maysles brothers shot tons of raw footage and then constructed their narrative without any attempt to interpret it for the viewer through such devices as voice-over narration.


The story that emerges is a sad portrait of a way of life that has disappeared, captured at the moment when the men who made their livelihood this way could see that it was coming to an end. 

The central character is Paul Brennan, AKA The Badger, whose desperation becomes more apparent as the film progresses.


Some of the most extraordinary scenes involve their manager, a jovial man who makes it clear that a failure to make sales targets is unforgivable. This film comes off as a raw, genuine precursor to dramas such as “Glengarry Glen Ross.”


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