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Death of a Salesman (1951) Fredric March, Mildred Dunnock | Drama

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An amazingly faithful adaptation of Arthur Miller’s stage masterpiece, Death of a Salesman is a powerful, disturbing, and wrenching film experience. Critics have argued for years over whether Miller’s work qualifies as a tragedy, but it’s impossible to deny the force and passion that pours forth from it. Given the unenviable task of replacing Lee J. Cobb, whose stage performance in the role was legendary, Fredric March more than rises to the occasion, giving what is arguably the finest performance of his career. March offers glimpses of the real humanity that lies deeply buried at the core of his character, but not at the expense of the less pleasant aspects of the character. He is a liar, a fake, and dangerously self-involved, and March’s skillful performance doesn’t shy away from any of this, while at the same time making the viewer care so deeply that a man could be so terribly afraid and angry and unable to admit to it. Mildred Dunnock is sheer perfection as the wife and mother who constantly tries to support the men in her life and is torn up by their failures, and Kevin McCarthy and Cameron Mitchell are aces as the sons. Laslo Benedek’s direction is taut and gripping, his only real misfire being a straightforward cinematic translation of the play’s commingling of past and present rather than a more imaginative approach. All in all, an excellent adaptation of one of the American theater’s greatest plays.

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Comment (12)

  1. Yay! Am I the first to post? So happy for this upload. There have been so many takes on this wonderful play turned film. I’m excited! I just watched Dustin Hoffman as Willie Lowman last week and he was great. But Frederick March??? He’s a whole different animal, as we say in Texas.


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