Review: ‘Death of a Salesman’

The vise-like grip with which Death of a Salesman held Broadway theatregoers for almost two years continues undiminished in Stanley Kramer's production of the film version. Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winner has been closely followed in the screen adaptation.

The vise-like grip with which Death of a Salesman held Broadway theatregoers for almost two years continues undiminished in Stanley Kramer’s production of the film version. Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer Prize-winner has been closely followed in the screen adaptation.

Salesman starkly reveals how Willy Loman’s disillusionments catch up with him, his sons, his wife Linda; of how, after 34 years selling for the same house, he is finally fired, thus bringing about his complete mental collapse. During the period when his mental processes are breaking down, the film images Willy’s memories of the past 20 years in illustrating how his desire for importance somehow became enmeshed in his confused dreams.

Fredric March, in the part created on the New York stage by Lee Cobb, gives perhaps the greatest performance of his career. Mildred Dunnock, in her original Broadway part, is superb as Willy’s wife Linda. Kevin McCarthy, as Biff, is a film newcomer who entrenches himself strongly in the role performed on Broadway by Arthur Kennedy, Cameron Mitchell is an engaging ‘Happy’ Loman, the other brother, which he played on Broadway.

1951: Nominations: Best Actor (Fredric March), Supp. Actor (Kevin McCarthy), Supp. Actress (Mildred Dunnock), B&W Cinematography, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture

Death of a Salesman

Production

Kramer/ Columbia. Director Laslo Benedek; Producer Stanley Kramer; Screenplay Stanley Roberts; Camera Franz P. Planer; Editor William Lyon; Music Alex North; Art Director Rudolph Sternad, Cary Odell

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1951. Running time: 115 MIN.

With

Fredric March Mildred Dunnock Kevin McCarthy Cameron Mitchell Howard Smith Royal Beal
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