Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Artisan Entertainment
Cast: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey
Extras: Commentaries, Featurettes, Tribute to Jack Lemon, Biopraphies, Production Notes

A quick look at the credits of "Glengarry Glen Ross" tells you immediately that the movie you are about to see must be something very special. I’m not limiting myself to the cast in this case but also include writer David Mamet, who has brought us such varied films as "Ronin, ", "Wag The Dog," "Hoffa" and "Hannibal" and director James Foley whose work spans from Madonna music videos to gritty films like "The Corruptor." But of course also the cast is absolutely amazing, featuring Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey and Jonathan Pryce. Does it get any more accomplished than that?

After years of waiting, Artisan Home Entertainment finally delivers "Glengarry Glen Ross" on DVD in a 2-disc set to celebrate the movie’s 10th Anniversary, and to say it’s a great release is in fact an understatement.

A group of real estate telemarketers get a visit from the main office one day in the form of the company bully Blake (Alex Baldwin). Diminishing and intimidating everyone in the room he tells them that they are all out of a job, unless they manage to be one of the two highest grossing salesmen in the office by the end of the month. "Third prize is, you’re fired!" is the new company motto. With that he leaves the men in their misery as they begin the struggle to save their hides. The main problem is that these salesmen are given weak leads – names and addresses of people who are known not to buy real estate or how are insolvent to begin with. Ultimately it is a hopeless prospect and each of the men begins forging plans how to make the quota.

Eloquently the movie explores a variety of characters as they are thrown into this extreme situation. Unlike what you may first expect, the film is not so much about a look behind the scenes of high pressures sales – it could be planted into virtually any of today’s performance based job environments – but much more about the dynamics between people, the way how they handle the pressure per se and how their methodology and mentality can make the difference. Carefully, the film lets us observe how each of the characters deals with the situation and how frictions, peer pressure, their past and present circumstance shape each one of them into what they are. "Glengarry Glen Ross" is a character drama par excellence but be forewarned, it is a very dialogue-heavy film.

The DVD contains an <$16x9,anamorphic> 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> version of the movie as well as a brutally cropped <$PS,fullscreen> presentation. Interestingly, Artisan did not include both versions of the film on one disc and the supplements on the other. Instead the studio created a disc for each version, and then spread the extras across the remaining space on both discs. It makes finding some extras a bit more tedious than necessary as you have to swap discs back and forth. The transfers are free of grain and absolutely clean, without ever showing a hint of a speckle. The image definition is impressively bringing out even the most subtle nuances in the print. No edge-enhancement is evident, giving the transfer a very smooth and film-like appearance. Colors are faithfully reproduced, creating natural looking fleshtones as well as rich and vibrant hues that never bleed. Blacks are deep and solid creating shadows that are finely delineated and never break up. The compression is also without flaws turning "Glengarry Glen Ross" into a very impressive showing.

The audio comes along equally impressive with a <$DTS,DTS> <$5.1,5.1 channel> track and a <$DD,Dolby Digital> 5.1 track as well as supplemental <$DS,Dolby Surround> tracks in English and French. The tracks are all of very high quality, perfectly restoring the movie’s subtle ambiance without problems. Being dialogue-driven the film is not a show-off piece for surround effects but manages to integrate a very finely crafted sound stage nonetheless.

The DVD also contains an <$commentary,audio commentary> by director James Foley. However it is not a running length commentary but focuses only on a few select scenes that are directly accessible from the commentary menu. Still the commentary is insightful and very informative as the director explains his approach and covers his work in detail.

"Magic Time" is a great featurette about the great, late Jack Lemmon in which family and friends remember this exceptional actor. I found especially the recollections of his son Chris very touching and it is evident that he was very moved during the filming of this segment, too, telling some great stories of Jack Lemmon, the man, the actor, the understated icon. Running for 30-minutes it is a beautiful tribute to the actor.

On the second disc we find other featurettes, such as "ABC: Always Be Closing" a look at the facts and fiction behind the movie. Running 30-minutes it is an interesting look at the sales profession and how things have been embellished for the film.

The 10-minute featurtte "J. Roy: New and Unused furniture" shows us the story of a real-life salesman and his techniques.

Here you find also additional commentaries by Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin and a number of crew members. The term "commentary" is a bit misleading however, as they are interviews that are running over selected parts of the film.

Excerpts from "The Charlie Rose Show" with Jack Lemmon is also part of the release, as well as a phenomenal excerpt from "Inside The Actor’s Studio" with Kevin Spacey. The DVD is rounded out by cast and crew biographies and production notes.

I always find "Glengarry Glen Ross" to be an utterly impressive film that relies solely on the performance of its cast and the filmmakers to drive home a story that is as simple as it is powerful. The cinematic eloquence, the quality of the dialogues and the performances are all juts top notch. I am glad that Artisan has taken the time to prepare this film as a Special Edition with all the extras included, and that the studio went the mile to brings us a stellar high-end presentation of the film itself. The only bad thing I can possible say about this release is that it’s time for Artisan to stop listing "Interactive Menus" as a Special Feature on the packaging. Haven’t we outgrown that stage five years ago?

This DVD is a must-own. Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for closers only, so go and get that DVD!