Jack Lemmon Month #2: Glengarry Glen Ross, Short Cuts

Glengarry Glen Ross


Originally a Tony Award-winning play of the same title, this story (1995) is about four real-estate salesmen who went though desperate means to get their company’s favor and to avoid getting fired at the end of the month. Levene, Roma, Blake, and Aaronow go through a list of names and phone numbers and resort to all forms of tactics, legal or otherwise, to come up with successful sales records, but end up in unexpected discoveries and self-realizations. Jack Lemmon is cast as Shelley Levene, who was awarded as Best Actor by Volpi Cup, Ricky Roma is played by Al Pacino, Blake is played by Alec Baldwin, and George Aanorow is played by Alan Arkin. The movie is an adaptation by David Mamet, and it is directed by James Foley.

The movie is a combination of wit and charm. With a powerhouse cast, each actor contributed to the climax of the story where everything from charisma to coercion is used in order to get on top of the other salesmen. They go through unexpected lengths. At first, it was to avoid getting fired and be on top of the list and get a Cadillac, but later it became a psychological battle of man versus man and man versus himself in confrontation of his own ego. Jack Lemmon’s character is a must-see, as it is a familiar experience of pushing oneself to his limits and finding out that betrayal and reality can crush a person down in the most unexpected revelations.

Short Cuts


A 1993 American comedy-drama, Short Cuts features 22 separate but strong characters who go through some stroke of luck or chance that directly or indirectly involves infidelity and death. It is also a story of how people having different jobs can affect another, and how unusual it is that people end up in jobs they hadn’t dreamt themselves ever doing, like a helicopter pilot or a birthday cake decorator. With all the parallel situations going on in the movie, Jack Lemmon’s character Paul Finnigan shows a stronger adaptation of one’s struggles: estranged from his son and out to visit his grandson in the hospital for a short time, before revealing much in a latter monologue. Andie MacDowell, Mathew Modine, Robert Downey, Jr., Madeleine Stowe, and Tim Robbins are among the cast, directed by Robert Altman.

The movie opens in a fleet of helicopters spraying for medflies, but seemingly laying before its path all the important characters doing different jobs that the moviegoers can easily relate to. It’s not just the usual blue-collar men presented where each character’s role is yet to be distinguished from the other. As each scene unfolds, we begin to understand and relate to how each person can unconsciously affect the other due to his source of living. It is uncanny, raw, but real. Jack Lemmon’s part as the estranged grandfather is also a center of the story, because his character represents someone involved in infidelity, yet reveals his true self by a short yet compelling visit to his grandson. A must-see film.


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