Death of a Salesman is a made for TV movie that originally aired in 1985. Based on the emotionally moving 1949 play by Arthur Miller. The same Broadway production that upon the rise of the curtain on February of 1949 – ran for 742 performances. It has been brought back to Broadway a total of four times and secured Tony Awards for three of them.
Because Miller delivered a powder keg of a story – and when it ignites it will leave you stunned. That is just a fact. It is also the reason why many consider Death of a Salesman one of the greatest plays of the 20th Century. When you get the right cast in place for such a production it is easy to see why it has remained so popular.
For those of use that might have missed it when it aired on CBS back in 1985, we are in luck. Because our friends from Shout! Factory have chosen Death of a Salesman as the 7th entry in their Shout Select line. For those of you that haven’t heard of Shout Select – they are handpicked films that the company feels deserve special treatment. The movies that are selected range from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai to Colors.
Now I had just mentioned that when you have the right cast for Death of a Salesman you have something special. Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich, Stephen Lang, Kate Reid, and Charles Durning. These are just some of the talented performers who helped the movie secure three Emmy Awards.
While I do try to leave clips until the end of my posts – I think this will do a far better job of showing you what I’m talking about.
[Via] Shout! Factory
As a matter of fact, Dustin Hoffman was performing in the Broadway play during 1984. Which is why I assume he was chosen to portray the lead in the TV movie.
So what is Death of a Salesman about?
The plot of the film concerns William ‘Willy’ Loman (Hoffman). An aging traveling salesman who has reached that point of his life where it looks like the end of the line. In addition to that is his raging inner battle against the truths of his own character. Loman has some very big problems and that is putting it mildly. It would seem he is suffering from dementia – or you might argue that he just can’t let go of the past. I think it is fair though to say it is the former more than the latter.
Furthermore Loman’s self-delusions of his own life have also has had an averse effect on his family. Case in point, you saw how he treated his wife in that clip above. Willy verbally attacks his eldest son, Biff (Malkovich), for not living up to his potential. While his youngest son, Happy (Lang), lives an equally self-delusional lifestyle.
I can’t go too much further into the plot as it risks spoiling important emotional moments. But the beauty of Miller’s play and teleplay is its honesty. While it might sound like Loman could be a deplorable character – he is overall…human. It is very easy for audiences, especially with Hoffman’s performance, to sympathize and relate. The sense you aren’t getting your just dues and the haunting regrets of the past are palpable. In addition the characters are true to themselves – you won’t find a Hollywood ending here.
This is Shout! Factory so what special features does the Blu-Ray have?
There is only one extra on this release. But it is certainly a doozy. Shout! Factory has included Private Conversations which is an almost hour and a half documentary. Featuring a behind the scenes look at the cast and crew, including Arthur Miller, as they shoot the film.
Death of a Salesman is a worthy addition to Shout Select. If you are in the mood for a powerhouse drama, it is a worthy addition to your film collection. You can pick it up today at better stores or order it from Shout! Factory on their official site.
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