New Digital Restoration
A fascinating and controversial investigation of American materialism by Albert and David Maysles, two of the most brilliant practitioners of direct cinema and the first to coin the term [with editing by co-creator Charlotte Zwerin]. Salesman follows the successes and failures of four Boston-based sales representatives of the Mid-American Bible company. Their product is a gilt-edged DuPont fabricoid plastic-and-nylon-bound Bible. (“It’s washable and outlasts leather four to one.”) The film focuses on the personal crisis of one of the salesmen, Paul Brennan, who despite the theological pep talks at the sales convention finally succumbs to “negative thoughts” after failing day after day to make a sale. “[Salesman is] such a fine, pure picture of a small section of American life that I can’t imagine its ever seeming irrelevant. . . . Brennan driving aimlessly through the fake Moorish architecture of Opa-Locka, Fla., where the streets are named after Sinbad and Ali Baba and the City Hall is shaped like a mosque, is an image of America as a worn-out Disneyland that is unforgettable” (Vincent Canby).