Mike D’Angelo (last year):
All hail young, skinny Alec Baldwin. His character—inexplicably called Blake in the credits, rather than Fuck You—doesn’t exist in the play, and he only appears in this one scene. Yet he arguably sets the tone for the entire movie, providing a much more concrete sense of the pressure these salesman are under. Baldwin gives the monologue a marvelously practiced ring, as if he goes around performing it for various seedy offices around town; he’s the motivational speaker from Hell, determined to either increase productivity or inspire suicide. And Baldwin knows how to put his own arresting spin on Mamet’s famously repetitive dialogue. I read the shooting script long ago, and the line as written was “You think I’m fuckin’ with you, I am not fuckin’ with you”—quick, stabbing, emphasis on not. Baldwin transforms it into more of a slow ritual disembowelment, separating the two sentences with a curt head-shake that seems to nullify his victims’ entire existence. (I also love the way he shoots a glance at Levene’s crotch before asking, “You call yourself a salesman, you son of a bitch?”) Vocational terrorism has rarely been so delectable.
Did not realize the best scene in the film was not in the play — and D’Angelo makes of number of arguments as to why that’s the way it should be.