For as long as there have been movies there have been movie studios. And for as long as there have been movie studios there have been movie studio executives making all sorts of dumb suggestions to movie directors about how to make their films “better.” In the case of Glengarry Glen Ross, James Foley’s iconic 1992 adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the studio’s idiotic note was: Can we somehow work an explosion into the beginning? Which is how Alec Baldwin’s now-legendary “Always Be Closing” speech came to be.
Earlier this week, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, Brooklyn Nine-Nine star John C. McGinley was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show. At one point, talk turned to the actor’s role in the 2012 revival of Glengarry Glen Ross (McGinley played Dave Moss, the role Ed Harris played in the movie and in the show’s original 1984 Broadway run). While McGinley was not in the movie version of the film, he shared an interesting story that Al Pacino had told him about the film:
“They asked David Mamet to put a special effect to get the movie going, like an explosion or something. And he wrote the Alec Baldwin diatribe. That’s the explosion that’s not in the play. Alec Baldwin’s character is a threat off-stage in the play. That’s how David solved that problem.”
Yes, someone at the studio thought that the best way to kick off this brilliantly written character piece was with an actual explosion or some sort of special effect. Fortunately, Mamet was smart enough to realize that an emasculating speech delivered in the most perfectly patronizing way possible had the power to deliver the same kind of jump scare the studio wanted. While the movie tanked in theaters, it grew a cult following when it was released on home video—in large part because of that humiliating dressing-down. Today, it’s Glengarry’s most enduring legacy and has been referenced and parodied countless times over the years—including by Alec Baldwin himself.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)