Sales has always been portrayed in movies in a very stereotypical manner. For the purpose of entertainment, some of these sales movies can be hugely enjoyable to watch, on the other hand, other movies show a more realistic and solemn side to sales.
The following sales movies span across different decades and showcase the ups and downs of sales. As you’ll see, these films depict what it takes to takes to succeed as well as the stories of those where things didn’t turn out so well for them.
We have a good selection of dramas and comedies, some you may have watched before, others you may never have heard before. Enjoy!
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
“Put. That coffee. Down!”. Ah yes, the iconic sales movie full of memorable quotes that is Glengarry Glen Ross. With an all-star lineup including Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alan Arkin, Bruce Altman. Ed Harris and Jonathan Pryce, the chemistry between them really pull you into the harsh reality of real estate sales as they portray the highs and lows of what it takes to succeed in high-pressure sales.
Boiler Room (2000)
Boiler Room depicts the stereotypical image of what sales is like: aggressive, loud and shady. As we know this couldn’t be further from the truth. We see this sales movie’s heavy use of cold calling selling to unsuspecting buyers just to get themselves rich in the process – without a shred of ethics or morale. So when a young college dropout learns the aggressive sales tactics to earn himself a piece of the pie, he soon discovers the dark truth behind his job at the firm.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
In this movie, we see Will Smith play Chris Gardner, a single father, who goes through a lot of stress and troubles as he starts out as a salesman but struggles to make ends meet for himself and his son. Being evicted from his apartment they find themselves with nowhere to go, but an opportunity for a financial breakthrough is presented before him – securing an internship at a brokerage firm. Despite it being an unpaid position, Chris is determined to succeed in the hopes of turning his and his son’s life around.
Wall Street (1987)
No, not the one with Leonardo DiCaprio. This is the 1987 Wall Street with Charlie Sheen who plays Bud Fox, a young stockbroker, who gets involved with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a wealthy and ruthless Wall Street trader, who tries to trade their way to the top using illegal inside information. With greed and corruption playing high, Fox eventually has to question his loyalty as his actions hit home.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street is a film full of emotions from ecstatic highs and devastating lows to outright rage. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it follows the story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort who grows his firm from a few close friends to an entire trading floor full of traders who idolise Jordan and are hungry to make it big. As their wealth grows so does their appetite for more exotic and exciting adventures, their illigitimate practices eventually catches up to them – ultimately causing their downfall.
Tommy Boy (1995)
When Tommy, the son of a factory owner, inherits the near-bankrupt family business after his father dies, Tommy goes against the idea of selling it to be closed down and heads out to generate enough sales to keep the factory afloat. Himself appearing to be an overweight moron hits the road with Tommy’s father’s assistant who is the total opposite in character (and physique). What ensues is a series of comedic scenes as they learn how to connect with their customers.
Tin Men (1987)
The rivalry between two competing aluminium-sliding sales reps turns personal after neither of them wants to take blame after a minor car accident occurs. With great dialogue between the characters played by Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, their hatred for each other continues to grow as they compete in 1963 Baltimore.
The Founder (2016)
This movie is about entrepreneurship as much as it is about sales. The Founder is a story about Ray Kroc, the salesman who built the McDonald empire with the McDonald brothers. We see Michael Keaton’s great performance of Ray Kroc as he shows the sheer persistence, ambition and ruthlessness it took to succeed as he essentially takes the business over from the brothers after being impressed by their system to make food fast.
Seize the Day (1986)
Starring Robin Williams, the movie is set in 1956 about a middle-aged man named Tommy Wilhelm who was a travelling salesman until losing his job. He is soon divorced from his wife and when he goes to his father for help gets turned away. Tommy heads to New York for a fresh start but after an investment gone wrong, things don’t go so well for him.
Used Cars (1980)
With fierce rivalry and high energy, this sales movie is a satirical comedy about two used car salesmen with competing car lots across the road from each other. The two use every dirty sales trick and try anything to get one over the other. With Kurt Russell starring as one of the salesmen and Steven Spielberg as executive producer, you’ll be sure to enjoy this one.
The Big Kahuna (1999)
The Big Kahuna in this sales movie is the big prospective customer three salesmen try to land for their industrial lubricant manufacturer. Danny DeVito (the peacemaker), Kevin Spacey (the argumentative huckster) and Peter Facinelli (the religious youngster) play salesmen whose personalities clash as they attempt to close this one large client.
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)
A failing car dealership calls in Don Ready (Jeremy Piven), who plays a loud and fast-talking salesman, and his team to sell over 200 cars over the three-day 4th of July weekend. As the car dealership is on the brink of bankruptcy, Don and his team pull off all sorts of stunts to ensure their campaign is a huge success.
Death of a Salesman (1985)
This is a tragic story about an ageing travelling salesman, Willy Loman (Dustin Hoffman), who faces the reality of being inundated with financial troubles as well as having his relationships go downhill with his wife, Linda (Kate Reid), and two sons, Biff (John Malkovich) and Happy (Stephen Lang). Willy looks back on his life wondering what went wrong but attempts to make a final effort to make things right.
12 Angry Men (1957)
After an 18-year-old is accused of stabbing his father to death, with evidence appearing to show that was the case, the life of the teen lies in the hands of 12 jurors who must unanimously decide whether he is guilty or not. All but 1 vote guilty. With the members of the jury known only to us by number, juror number 8 has his doubts that the teen is guilty and must persuade the rest of the jury despite their strong beliefs and the evidence pointing otherwise.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Jerry Maguire, a sports agent played by Tom Cruise, gets fired after expressing his epiphany about the dishonesty in the sports management business. Jerry sets up his own agency but only one of his clients decides to move over with him – football player Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.). With just his former secretary and a very challenging sole client, Jerry goes through the hardship of making his business work as well as building his new life.
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