Breaking Down The Iconic “Coffee Is For Closers” Scene In Glengarry Glen Ross

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Nice Move

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True story: I’ve never actually seen Glengarry Glen Ross in its entirety. I’ve actually only watched this one scene. From what I hear, the movie rates anywhere from just kinda “meh” to really good. Whatever, I don’t really care. It could have been a 15-minute film about the ins and outs of peddling magazines door-to-door for all I care, and that’s because it conceived one of the greatest scenes of all time — a scene about the cutthroat reality of the real estate sales business.

Alec Baldwin’s character, sporting a God-like powerslick and watch that costs more than your car, berates a room full of grown ass men — also-ran salesmen that are seemingly struggling to meet Mitch and Murray’s standards selling real estate. In the scene, Baldwin identifies himself with the name “Fuck You,” but the character’s actual name is Blake, just simply Blake (according to Wikipedia) — no last name, which I believe is quite fitting for the character’s authoritative role.

Now to the scene. Watch it here:

Let that sink in.

Blake begins the scene with a power-asserting slow walk with his head down and coffee in hand to establish an ominous, stoic-like atmosphere in the room. He seeks to cast a dark cloud over the room without saying a word. He is successful, causing a small frenzy of bewilderment and panic among the soon-to-be victims of this verbally-assaulting tirade of monumental proportions.

Blake opens with a mid-sentence pause and cigarette rip, establishing a vibe that, even though he’s there to share his sales wisdom, they’re on his time, and he’ll carry on as he pleases.

Then, despite being one man down, it’s go time.

In an effort to let the room know that what he’s about to say is the most important monologue they could ever hear, he makes a veteran salesman feel like a intern-peasant with the iconic coffee line you’ve all heard, even if until now you didn’t know what it was from. Once he ensures that he has gained the attention of everyone in the room, he alleviates any doubts about his sincerity by letting the coffee pot-wielder know that is he definitely not fucking with him by simply saying, “I am not fucking with you.” He’s just out here in the ‘burbs on a mission of mercy, and he’s from “downtown” where all the rest of the successful salesmen conduct their business.

“Fuck You” then spends the next couple minutes on a tangent about the importance of closing sales, including regaining any attention — that he had zero chance of losing to begin with — by asking the professional businessmen/husbands/fathers/seemingly upstanding members of the community, “You hear me, you fucking faggots!?”

That’s when all the fucking faggots begin to mix in some irritation with their fear and humility. It’s “fuck or walk” time, though, as Blake would go on to explain.

The office naysayer then makes a grave tactical error by revealing disinterest in Blake’s spiel. Blake snaps into action and quickly remedies the situation. At this moment Blake removes his watch, audaciously sets it down in front of the poor bastard, played by Ed Harris, and tells him it cost more than his car, a car that Blake earlier ventured to guess was a Hyundai. Then, while pissing on the basic human decency rule of not discussing salaries with others, Blake unsolicitedly reveals that his earnings the previous year were $970,000. His weaker counterpoint, the aforementioned poor bastard, chooses not to share what he earned, showing gross inferiority.

“Nice guy? I don’t give a shit.

Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids.”

^ Love this one.

During the rest of his speech, Blake just generally demeans the men while simultaneously reminding them, among other things, the multitude of ways in which he is better than them. Oddly, he carries around a couple brass balls, resembling testicles, to use for emphasis when discussing the gumption required in the sales game. Blake plays the brass balls card like only Blake can do. Almost like second nature, really. Casually and sternly.

In a final gesture to really drive home the point that every salesmen he’s talking to is worthless, Blake tempts them with superior leads, “the Glengarry leads,” which he chooses not to share. The reason for this is not easily discernible, leaving the viewer to believe it’s merely to further humiliate them.

It’s effective.

***


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