Sunday, 15 August 2010

'It’s not the bum territory—it’s the bum in the territory'

Dir. Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin
(1968, Maysles Films)

A documentary following bible salesmen. The Simpsons – the crooked salesmen you get in numerous episodes – well here they all are : Jamie Baker - 'The Rabbit', Paul Brennan - 'The Badger', Raymond Martos - 'The Bull', Charles McDevitt - 'The Gipper'. You got the seedy, desperate type, you have the macho 'I eat steak and play poker' type. All these men graft away, as they try and flog forty dollar bibles to low income families across New England and Florida.

Watching these men go about their business is all that happens in the 90 minutes. Door to door, they sell a few bibles, they struggle to sell and they sell a few more bibles. The film works and it's most definitely of a period, the suits, the motel rooms, the haircuts all feel wonderfully nostalgic and well...über cool. But man the game is repetitive, ingenious pitches of the bible and fucking over one customer after the other... Lovely photography, with the one of the salesman driving menacingly at night, and some street light kissing his face as he roams through the night, and a dark suit walking in the snow –beautiful. But come the end I was left indifferent – you know from the start who these guys are and what they're about – and maybe that's because we've seen these people hundreds of times on film and television but for me it was a little mundane.

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