Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992 – One of the most under rated movies in my opinion.
Like The Shawshank Redemption, this was a dud when it released but has since gone on to become a cult classic.
But then this blog is not about movies, underrated or not. This blog is about investing for the most part and about self-improvement for some part. The latter is where this movie fits in very well, even if it is loaded with expletives and is brutal in its presentation. Other than the testosterone loaded theme (not socially acceptable these days), this movie has some great acting by people like Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris and Alec Baldwin.
This 9-minute opening scene is one of the very best I’ve seen when it comes to in-your-face realism, it is almost in the league of the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan and Full Metal Jacket. It gets down to the bare bones of how society views us once the layers of societal niceties are stripped away.
Some context – Alec Baldwin is a star salesman brought into to “inspire” a lagging real estate sales team to close more deals and to earn their stripes. This is the only scene he has in the entire movie and the guy really owns it. Sales is brutal, by the time you watch this scene you get a sense of what it feels like for salesmen who are under tremendous pressure to make their quota. They take abuse from their customers and bosses at the same time.
Some of the lines that Alec Baldwin delivers cut like a knife but can inspire us to do what it takes to get better and to succeed.
Insulting yet inspiring.
If you have the stomach to deal with the heavy-duty emotional pressure you are subjected to and can see things objectively. This also ties in very well with some of the other posts I’ve written – here and here.
I was a genuine movie buff for some years.
Twelve Angry Men
How one juror who takes a cold look at the facts, thinks in probabilities rather than superficial possibilities and manages to convince 11 other jurors to reverse their stance on what appears to be an open and shut case of murder.
The Shawshank Redemption
How a human being wrongly convicted of murder manages to not just keep his sanity for decades but also keeps hope alive in the worst of living conditions. And manages to convince some about how one can keep dignity intact even when everything seems lost.
Saving Private Ryan
How a team of men (who experienced and survived the Normandy Beach landing) are sent on a mission to return the last of her living sons to an aged mother during World War II. All in the name of duty. The opening sequence of the movie is almost impossible to sit through without flinching when you watch it for the first time.
How an army captain struggling to adjust to civilization finds meaning in taking up a messed up mission deep in the South East Asian jungles.
Now for some off beat trivia….
What is the common to this list?
Think for a second before you move to the answer, chances are you may not have made this observation even if you’ve already watched all of them.
There is not a single significant female character in any of these movies.
Stop whining and start performing. The world responds to you differently once you start performing.
Even a spiritual guru or a philanthropist is held to a standard of performance that applies in their specific domains. This is not capitalist society specific; it is about merit, value addition and of excellence at whatever you choose to do.
This is the central point of Alec Baldwin’s monologue in the scene, even if the context is that of real estate sales.
In another scene from the same movie, Al Pacino the best salesman in the office rips into his boss Kevin Spacey for shooting his mouth off in front of a customer before understanding the context of the interaction.
It takes balls to talk to your boss like that, that’s the kind of confidence only high performers can afford to have.