Repertory Picks

A Direct Cinema Landmark, Fifty Years Later

Manhattan’s Metrograph cinema is currently hawking tickets for the fiftieth-anniversary run of the Maysles brothers and Charlotte Zwerin’s documentary Salesman, which begins its weeklong downtown revival, in a brand-new restoration, starting tomorrow. One of the pivotal works of the Direct Cinema movement, the film provides a vivid snapshot of life on the road, tagging along with down-on-his-luck Paul Brennan and several of his fellow representatives of the Mid-American Bible Company as they peddle the Book of Books door-to-door. As scholar Toby Miller notes in his liner essay for our release, Salesman “skillfully details the ‘other’ ’60s,” revealing a workaday America wholly undisturbed by the seismic convulsions of the counterculture, a buttoned-up place where “faith itself is neatly commodified as though it were a new model of vacuum cleaner.

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