Most of the stories depicting devils show them having an entertaining, fulfilling job tempting us. A job that sounds more like a hobby. The story of Glengarry Glen Ross says it otherwise. What miserable lives poor devils have!
Not our fight against temptation makes the devil’s job difficult. We rarely fight back and if we do we rarely win. Sometimes we just don’t have what they want, what they must take from us.
But why would a devil ask for something we cannot give? Shouldn’t he know better? He knows it very well but there are some factors even the devil cannot ignore. He belongs to an organization, he has several bosses and, what a novelty, a pain-in-the-ass supervisor who’s not only irritatingly following rules and orders but also seems to be playing for the opposite team!
The Willy Loman-like devils, the junior sales representatives of hell, always get the worst leads. Two per day. Plenty, you’ll see, even for the kind that never sleeps. Their situation is so desperate that trying to corrupt the supervisor to give out one good lead is not surprising. This extreme act, a devil tempting another devil, is what I’d call the temptation with a Droste effect, la tentation mise en abyme, meta-temptation, the ultimate temptation etc. Kevin Spacey and Jack Lemmon are both on top of this situation.
If a junior devil has some talent, some luck – luck seems to strike making no difference between humans, devils and angels – and closes a weak lead, he has a chance to get better leads and to start a real career.
Do you remember John Milton, the CEO of hell aka Milton-Chadwick-Watters, the New York law firm? The John Milton with Al Pacino’s face? The devil’s advocate – 1997?. In Glengarry Glen Ross he’s at the beginning of his outstanding career. He goes by the name of Ricky Roma but has the same Al Pacino shape.
The other devils get to use remarkable vehicles too like Ed Harris and Alan Arkin. Their exasperating dialogues are wrapped around another quote from Dr. Faustus: “The end of logic is to dispute well”.
Or maybe this movie is only about ordinary human salesmen.