Death of a Salesman

Director: Volker Schlöndorff
Year Released: 1985
Rating: 3.0

Made-for-TV (CBS to be exact) adaptation of Arthur Miller's play about the inability to attain the illusory "American Dream" of wealth and power (and the tragedy of not being able to accept one's situation in life) has a remarkable cast, which is primarily why I watched it: Dustin Hoffman is a memorable Willy Loman (despite being, in my opinion, a bit young for the role) as are John Malkovich and Stephen Lang as his sons Biff and Happy (Charles Durning, always a fantastic character actor, rings true in his role as the sympathetic neighbor). There's a hard-to-find documentary about the making of this called Private Conversations which shows Miller himself collaborating with Schlöndorff and the cast - it's a riveting companion piece, as it highlights the behind-the-scenes process of talented individuals genuinely obsessed with their craft. My minor reservations about the play itself - the tendency to turn to hysteria as a dramatic tool, particularly Loman's schizophrenic delusions - are negligible when the performances are so strong.