DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main

James Foley
Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Jonathan Pryce, Bruce Altman, Jude Ciccolella
David Mamet

An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 10/11/2016

• Audio Commentary with Director James Foley
• Tribute to Jack Lemmon
• “ABC (Always Be Closing)” Documentary
• Clip Archives


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Glengarry Glen Ross [Blu-Ray] (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 24, 2017)

Based on David Mamet’s Tony and Pulitzer winning play, 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross follows a cluster of real estate salesmen. They pitch vacation properties to prospective clients, most of whom show no interest in the subject. Their lives revolve around the acquisition of hot leads they can use to chase possible buyers.

We encounter four different salesmen, and Shelley “The Machine” Levene (Jack Lemmon) represents the oldest – and most struggling - member of the crew. Though he used to merit his nickname as “The Machine”, he can’t sell dry land to a drowning man now, and he desperately needs to generate some money.

At the other end of the spectrum we find Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), the firm’s hottest seller. When we first see him, he’s in a local bar and he tries to push his wares on James Lingk (Jonathan Pryce). Ricky eventually gets Lingk to bite, which puts Roma on the top of the sakes pile at the company.

Linked together, we discover Dave Moss (Ed Harris) and George Aaronow (Alan Arkin). Dave seems bitter and wants to exact some form of revenge on his uncaring employers, while the agreeable George sounds like he might go along with it.

This idea escalates after they attend a meeting at the office. Big-shot Blake (Alec Baldwin) berates the men to improve their sales and he also discusses a contest. First prize is a Cadillac, second prize is steak knives, and third prize is dismissal.

This treatment badly cheeses off the crew and especially irks Dave. Office manager John Williamson (Kevin Spacey) possesses some hot leads, but he won’t dole them out the way the salesmen want. We follow the machinations of the salesmen as they try to work through these developments.

I don’t know how it looks based on this synopsis, but Glengarry doesn’t really push plot very heavily. Adapted from Mamet’s successful play, the movie keeps pretty true to its stage-bound origins, and it strongly emphasizes its characters. That factor helps make it a success.

The actors do a lot to take Glengarry to a high level. The film boasts a lot of talent, and most of them live up to their billing.

For me, only Pacino displays any real weaknesses. While he brings Ricky to life reasonably well, he demonstrates too much yelling in the part and comes across as louder and more forced than necessary. This makes him seem a little less real to me.

However, Pacino seems good as a whole, and the other performers present excellent work. Although all do well, Lemmon offers the strongest work. Shelley requires the greatest emotional range, and Lemmon allows the part to come to life nicely.

After he finally notches a sale, Shelley goes from a pathetic sad sack to a cocky and arrogant force of nature. Despite the wide variations, Lemmon makes them all believable and realistic. Thanks to Lemmon, Shelley seems equally true to life in both incarnations.

If I need to find a flaw in Glengarry, it’d result from James Foley’s somewhat lackluster direction. At times the movie feels like little more than a filmed version of the play.

I’m not wild about flicks that show too much connection to their stage origins, and that occurs with Glengarry. The material remains strong enough to largely overcome that concern, but I’d like to see a little more life breathed into the program to separate it from its stage origins.

Despite those minor issues, I still like Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s what they call a “man’s movie”: it lacks guns and car chases, but the profanity and general harshness of its characters and themes keep it far from touchy-feely material most of the time. Well-written and nicely executed as a whole, it offers an intriguing and lively film.

The Disc Grades: Picture B- / Audio B / Bonus C+

Glengarry Glen Ross appeared in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Parts of the image looked great, but various drawbacks arose along the way.

Sharpness mostly seemed strong, as the film exhibited good delineation. Occasional shots looked a little soft, but not to a substantial degree. I noticed no moiré effects or jaggies, and edge haloes remained minor.

However, I suspect the image used some moderate noise reduction, especially during interiors, which seemed a bit “smoothed out” and artificial. These instances weren’t extreme, but they gave the movie a less than film-like look. In terms of print flaws, I saw a smattering of specks but nothing major.

Glengarry demonstrated a stylized palette, and the disc showed nice replication of those colors. The tones appeared lively and vivid and showed no noticeable concerns. Even during some shots with colored lighting, the hues stayed tight and distinct.

Black levels seemed deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not overly thick. Much of the movie looked positive, but the minor print flaws and the apparent noise reduction knocked it down to a “B-“.

Given the film’s heavy emphasis on dialogue, Glengarry, I didn’t anticipate a tremendous amount of activity from its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, and for the most part, the mix matched my expectations. The audio remained oriented toward the front speakers, which offered good stereo imaging for music and also presented a reasonably engaging sense of environment.

The surrounds contributed a fairly positive sense of place, though they actually seemed a little too active at times. Ambient office and weather sounds appeared somewhat unnatural and distracting on occasion. However, overall the soundfield offered a pretty convincing setting. Trains provided especially vivid audio from the rear speakers.

Audio quality appeared good. I noticed some vocal bleeding to the side speakers, but speech usually seemed well located and also came across as natural and distinct. I noticed no issues related to intelligibility or edginess.

Music sounded clear and vibrant and showed nice dynamic range across the board. Effects also seemed clean and accurate, and they demonstrated solid low-end response when appropriate. This was a more than competent mix for a dialogue-intensive film from the early 1990s.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD from 2002? Audio showed a little more pep, and visuals were tighter and more dynamic. Even with the minor drawbacks involved here, the Blu-ray improved on the DVD.

The Blu-ray replicates some of the DVD’s extras, and we start with an audio commentary from director James Foley. He gives us a running, screen-specific look at his initial involvement in Glengarry, changes made from the original play, and working with the all-star cast.

The latter element dominates the chat and offers some terrific material. Foley seems frank with his thoughts and even discusses some potential controversies, such as a run-in between Lemmon and Pacino.

The biggest problem here comes from dead air – acres and acres of empty spaces. The DVD presented an edited version of the commentary that made it “scene-specific”, a format that allowed the listener to skip all the lulls.

Why didn’t this translate to the Blu-ray? I have no idea, but the presentation becomes an issue. While Foley provides good information, he only speaks for about 60 percent of the film’s running time. That makes the commentary a bit of a chore.

After this we find Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon. This 30-minute, six-second program includes comments from James Foley, son Chris Lemmon, actor Peter Gallagher, Save the Tiger director John Avildsen, manager David Seltzer, and Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton. The piece concludes with a few minutes of Lemmon’s 1998 appearance on Lipton’s show.

Instead of a career retrospective, the participants simply relate their memories of Lemmon. Not surprisingly, these reminiscences stay heavily on the positive side of the coin, but that doesn’t cause a problem. The stories include topics like Lemmon’s obsession with golf and his relationship with Walter Matthau.

Lipton offers the most memorable story, however, as he relates the way that Lemmon acknowledged his alcoholism. While I’d prefer a documentary about Lemmon’s life and work, “Magic Time” offers a fairly interesting program.

ABC: Always Be Closing purports to examine “the psychological intersection of fictional and real-life salesmen”. This means that we hear about productions such as Death of a Salesman and Salesman and also get comments about their work from actual salesmen.

The 29-minute, 58-second show offers a very stark presentation. For the most part, we simply watch the speakers as they chat in front of a blank background.

Normally I don’t mind “talking head” pieces but this visual motif does harm the program. This show consists of almost nothing but these images, which makes “Closing” rather slow going. A few movie clips appear, but they don’t do much to break up the piece.

The content does little to make me forget the blandness. It offers some decent information about the lives of salesmen and the background of the different productions, but it doesn’t delve into the topics with any great depth or insight.

Toward the end, it explores some topics related to the movie, and those provide the most interesting moments, though some of them repeat information we heard elsewhere. Normally I like this kind of program, but “Always Be Closing” comes across as somewhat dull and lifeless.

After this we get two “clip archive” entries. The Charlie Rose Show offers on October 1993 chat between Rose and Jack Lemmon. It lasts 10 minutes and five seconds and touches on topics related to Glengarry. Lemmon briefly discusses his desire to play the part, his approach to the role, and his definition of success. The brief piece provides some interesting material, though I wish we could see more of the interview.

Inside the Actors Studio runs a mere two minutes, 10 seconds as it gives us a short glimpse of an appearance by Kevin Spacey. Some wannabe actor in the audience wants to perform a scene from Glengarry with Spacey. It’s cute but inconsequential. The guy from the crowd needs a lot of work, by the way.

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray drops extras from the DVD. It loses abbreviated “bonus commentaries” as well as a featurette and some text materials. The omission of the commentaries becomes the biggest disappointment.

While I can’t say Glengarry Glen Ross bowled me over, it provides a crisp and crackling piece of work buoyed by a slew of excellent performances. The Blu-ray offers mostly good picture and audio along with a smattering of supplements. I miss the bonus features dropped from the DVD but Blu-ray becomes the superior reproduction of the film.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main