All of us know movies that have left such an indelible mark on the culture that people routinely quote from them. For example, most people who hear, “This one goes to eleven” don’t need to be told that it’s a line from one of my personal favorites, the 1984 classic This Is Spinal Tap.
It is therefore a testament to the mythic place the salesman holds in our collective psyche that one of the most quoted movies of all time, especially among sales types, is Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet’s biting and mordant take on the sales profession. Of course, “profession” is too elegant a word to describe the job held by the Glengarry salesmen. “Racket” is probably more fitting for Mamet’s outrageously cynical view of what really happens in sales.
Among the movie version’s most famous lines is one delivered early in the film by Alec Baldwin, who plays a brutally condescending senior sales director giving his hapless uptown sales crew a pep talk—actually more of a do-or-die order—and does so brilliantly. Baldwin reminds the assembled group that he was sent on a “mission of mercy” from company owners “Mitch and Murray,” who are located “downtown.”
Early on in this darkly funny, but also kind of sad pep talk, the most down-on-his-luck salesman (played by Jack Lemmon) tries to grab a simple cup of coffee. The Baldwin sales manager pounces on him mercilessly, shouting, “Put that coffee down! Coffee’s for closers!”
That one line captures the essence ...