Recommendations for dialogue-heavy films a la Glengarry Glen Ross?
April 27, 2008 6:26 PM   Subscribe

I have lately been hooked on Glengarry Glen Ross and The Big Kahuna, small casts with stellar scripts and casting. What other dialogue-heavy films in this vein should I be watching?
posted by porn in the woods to Media & Arts (60 answers total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
12 Angry Men?
posted by stresstwig at 6:30 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

On a slightly different note, a lot of Hitchcock's films might fit your bill.
posted by stresstwig at 6:31 PM on April 27, 2008

Put the coffee down. Coffee is for closers.

The Usual Suspects comes to mind.
posted by LoriFLA at 6:34 PM on April 27, 2008

My Dinner With Andre
posted by amyms at 6:34 PM on April 27, 2008

The Big Chill
posted by amyms at 6:36 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dogville (love it or hate it...)? Same with Waking Life.
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
Court movies like Judgment at Nuremberg, Anatomy of a Murder, or Witness for the Prosecution?
If you like Mamet, maybe Heist or The Spanish Prisoner
posted by starman at 6:47 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

Kicking and Screaming
Seconding Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Great films.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:51 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Defintitely check out Mamet's other films. I'd suggest this order: House of Games, Spanish Prisoner, State & Main, The Edge, Spartan, Heist. They become more and more Mamet-y as you go. The first two are just great films. The last two I think you have to be a Mamet fan to appreciate.
posted by zanni at 6:54 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's much older but His Girl Friday is a very very wordy script, not quite what you're describing but you might like it anyway.
posted by ob at 6:56 PM on April 27, 2008

If you liked Glengarry Glen Ross, you will like the other David Mamet scripts that have been adapted for movies (IMDB page with his writing credits), all of which is exceptionally talky. First things that come to mind of his work is Oleanna (talkiest movie ever, I promise) which is decent and the Spanish Prisoner which is awesome. The Winslow Boy is great and so is American Buffalo. (Links for all those can be found on the IMDB page.)
posted by sneakin at 6:56 PM on April 27, 2008

Shoulda hit preview. zanni beat me to it. Oh, yeah, good call: House of Games FTW.
posted by sneakin at 6:57 PM on April 27, 2008

Whit Stillman's films.

"Boiler Room".
posted by Jahaza at 7:00 PM on April 27, 2008

Billy Wilder films:
-- "The Big Carnival" (also known as "Ace in the Hole")
-- "Double Indemnity"
-- "Sunset Boulevard"
-- "Some Like It Hot"
-- "The Apartment" (my favorite)
-- "The Seven Year Itch"
-- "Stalag 17"

"Bringing Up Baby" (Maybe the best example ever of what you're looking for)
"Top Hat" (Fred/Ginger musical with a smart, snappy script)
"His Girl Friday"
"The Lady Eve"
"All About Eve"

Whit Stillman Comedies
-- "Metropolitan"
-- "Barcelona"
-- "The Last Days of Disco" (I'm not a fan of this last one)

The TV Series "Deadwood"
posted by grumblebee at 7:00 PM on April 27, 2008

The Lion in Winter

Peter O'Toole. Katharine Hepburn. 'Nuff said.
posted by Justinian at 7:10 PM on April 27, 2008

Mamet's play Sexual Perversity in Chicago was made into a somewhat kitchy romance in 1986 as About Last Night. Say what you will about what Hollywood did to it, but many of the Mamet dialogs were lifted from the play intact. If that doesn't get you interested, nudity from both Rob Lowe and Demi Moore might. It's also Jim Belushi's best role, especially before people realized he'd never be John Belushi.
posted by Lucy2Times at 7:20 PM on April 27, 2008

2nding Metropolitan
posted by keith0718 at 7:25 PM on April 27, 2008

stresstwig mentioned Hitchcock, and I would recommend Lifeboat and Rope in particular. Strongly second House of Games and 12 Angry Men.
posted by sjthomp at 7:31 PM on April 27, 2008

Miller's Crossing
posted by Flunkie at 7:34 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could go got a 90s o'rific combo of Trainspotting, the first two Guy Ritchie movies, the first few Quentin Tarrantino movies and the first few Kevin Smith movies.
posted by Artw at 7:45 PM on April 27, 2008

Six Degrees of Separation (The play is fantastic; the film of it, somewhat less so, but it certainly does fit the parameters of what you're looking for.)
posted by ocherdraco at 7:45 PM on April 27, 2008

There's a new Mamet movie coming out soon, Redbelt. Haven't heard any reviews, but might be worth a shot.
posted by shinynewnick at 7:48 PM on April 27, 2008

small casts with stellar scripts and casting

Mike Leigh and John Sayles are two directors definitely up this alley. Leigh's Secrets and Lies is especially wonderful, but Life is Sweet and High Hopes are right up there, too. Sayles' Matewan is a little-known gem of a historical film, and Lone Star is near-perfect dialogue-driven drama. You can't go wrong with either of those two directors' better films - and there are a lot of them.
posted by mediareport at 8:04 PM on April 27, 2008

Miller's Crossing, as Flunkie mentioned, is amazing. Possibly my favorite film.

In terms of Mamet (of whom I'm also a big fan), he wrote the script for The Verdict with Paul Newman, and that's a good match for your interests.

Perhaps The Limey? Great film. Great acting. Terrence Stamp. Steven Soderburgh's smaller films are fantastic. Much better then the Ocean's 11 stuff.
posted by xz at 8:11 PM on April 27, 2008

ditto Matewan! great film. you can't go wrong with Sayles.

also, duh, Jim Jarmusch, if you haven't found his stuff yet: Down By Law is the place to start. Dead Man is also exceptional.

Have you seen any Hal Hartley films? His stuff might work for you.
posted by xz at 8:13 PM on April 27, 2008

Oh, and Richard Linklater's nearly unknown Tape, released the same year as Waking Life, has a cast of three and is a great example of a tight, dialogue-heavy small-cast film. In general, you'll want to keep your eye out for stage plays adapted by smart directors.
posted by mediareport at 8:15 PM on April 27, 2008

Closer (2004). The Professional (2001). Wit (2001). Shakespeare in Love (1998).
posted by paulsc at 8:26 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Val Kilmer and Robert Downey Jr in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Sharp dialogue and intrigue, with wit.....
posted by anitanita at 8:30 PM on April 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh yeah, there was a similar question a couple of years back with lots of good answers. I'll repeat a recommendation for Death and the Maiden, another adapted play that's a dark, brilliant, captivating small film.
posted by mediareport at 8:30 PM on April 27, 2008

Waking Life was mentioned, and many other of his films might qualify. Tape immediately came to mind when I thought of dialog-heavy movies. Not sure how it holds up, though, saw it in the theater in 2001 and can't remember it all that well. Thinking of Tape lead me to think of other movies filmed (largely) in a single room; Hitchcock's Rope and Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs. I'm sure there are plenty others that fit that bill, but it might be an interesting way to arrive at movies dependent almost entirely on the dialogue. Another movie that comes to mind is Funny Ha-Ha, which I'd bet is a love it or hate it type of movie; felt like a revitalization of the post-college slacker movie (see also Linklater's Slacker) in a way that was honest and familiar. The dialog is the movie, and the final exchange and final line, which is barely intelligible, reframe the entire movie. It's great.
posted by msbrauer at 8:31 PM on April 27, 2008

Brick (2005).
posted by paulsc at 8:53 PM on April 27, 2008

Seconding Boiler Room, and adding Wendy McLeod's House of Yes.

Mike Leigh, as mentioned above, is also lovely, but I think the very dark Naked (does not contain nudity, at least not of the body) is his best work.

I, too, almost always like adapted stage plays. The dialogue always seems so much better than your average written-for-the-screen product.
posted by rokusan at 8:54 PM on April 27, 2008

And MsBrauer is right about Tape. Very similar to Hospitality Suite/Big Kahuna.
posted by rokusan at 8:55 PM on April 27, 2008

"Two" movies:
Two Girls and a Guy
2 Days in Paris (this one is similar to Linklater's Before Sunrise/Sunset).
posted by good in a vacuum at 9:18 PM on April 27, 2008

If you think you might love Mamet - then I highly recommend reading his recent book BAMBI VS GODZILLA in which he talks about the films (GALAXY QUEST, DODSWORTH, ) and filmmakers (Preston Sturges, Michael Powell) that he loves...

And he also talks about what he hates about the business Hollywood.

Oh, and you really cannot go wrong with any of the films of Preston Sturges (THE LADY EVE) and Michael Powell (THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP).
posted by cinemafiend at 9:42 PM on April 27, 2008

Sweet Smell of Success
posted by minkll at 9:44 PM on April 27, 2008

-- Sleuth Lawrence Olivier and Michael Caine. The entire movie is basically these two guys talking.

-- The Americanization of Emily James Garner and Julie Andrews. The movie is more broad, but there are a couple of scenes that I feel have exactly what you are looking for.

Not exactly what you're looking for, but close:

-- Anything with Cary Grant and/or Alfred Hitchcock, but especially Father Goose, Indiscreet, North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief, Suspicion

-- The Man Who Would Be King

-- The Manchurian Candidate. Frank Sinatra's finest role. Seriously. This is a fucking creepy movie. The 2004 version is not as good (perhaps because I already knew the basic story), but it is worth renting. ((Chicago radio fans might note Buzz Kilman in a pivotal scene.))
posted by gjc at 9:44 PM on April 27, 2008

Back to the 70's: Three Days of the Condor, All the Preseident's Men, The Conversation.
posted by jouster at 9:45 PM on April 27, 2008

Mindwalk - Three people walking around Mont St. Michel and talking nonstop for the entire show about pretty much everything. You will never see oranges the same again.

Seconding Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang and Sleuth (1972).
posted by sciatica at 9:46 PM on April 27, 2008

How about Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard. Never saw the play, but the movie is great, with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth?

Along the Mamet lines, how about American Buffalo? That's Dennis Franz and Dustin Hoffman.
posted by Gorgik at 9:51 PM on April 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

"My idea of perfection is Roger Livesey (my favorite actor) in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (my favorite film) about to fight Anton Walbrook (my other favorite actor)." - David Mamet

Bambi vs. Godzilla p.148
posted by cinemafiend at 9:58 PM on April 27, 2008

"The Mother and the Whore" (1973), at 3 1/2 hours of Left Bank talk, is probably the most monologue-and-dialog heavy film ever. Not much snappy banter, but plenty of great cafe talk among disaffected youth.

For snappy banter, "His Girl Friday" is my favorite. It has a very high rate of words per minute.
"Blessed Event" (1930) with Lee Tracy is also great.

For sections of recent films, Mark Wahlberg has plenty of snappy answers to stupid questions in "The Departed."
posted by doncoyote at 10:12 PM on April 27, 2008

The Player

Several Woody Allen movies come to mind (Broadway Danny Rose, Crimes and Misdemeanors).
posted by jak68 at 11:35 PM on April 27, 2008

L.A. Confidential
Henry Jaglom
The Taking Of Pelham 123
posted by rhizome at 1:12 AM on April 28, 2008

American Buffalo. Also, Sexy Beast.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:19 AM on April 28, 2008

Saw In Bruges on Saturday - it was superb.
posted by bifter at 1:28 AM on April 28, 2008

The Maltese Falcon. Small cast. Good script. Fast talking.
posted by quadog at 1:37 AM on April 28, 2008

Melvin Goes to Dinner
The Anniversary Party
posted by quentiniii at 4:51 AM on April 28, 2008

The Man from Earth, the acting is pretty terrible but the script is well written in my opinion. It's another one of those entire movie in a single room with people talking movies.
posted by bertrandom at 5:02 AM on April 28, 2008

Seconding Deadwood, and if you are particularly interested in the use of dialogue in a non-utilitarian way, you could even try David Milch's short lived follow-up John from Cincinnati.
posted by dzot at 6:14 AM on April 28, 2008

Talk Radio is quite good.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 7:23 AM on April 28, 2008

Very different from the movies you mentioned as it's a comedy, but Flirting With Disaster has a small cast with a stellar script and (seriously perfect) casting and is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 9:00 AM on April 28, 2008

Seconding House of Games.
posted by WCityMike at 9:01 AM on April 28, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all of these tremendous recommendation. Filled out my Netflix queue accordingly.

Somehow, Glengarry Glen Ross had completely fallen off my radar, and I didn't give it a proper viewing until a few weeks ago. Holy smokes, this might be the best ensemble cast of the 1990s.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:16 AM on April 28, 2008

Seconding Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Thirding Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Fourthing Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
posted by waltzing astronomers at 9:47 AM on April 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

In the Company of Men
posted by inqb8tr at 6:29 PM on April 28, 2008

posted by jak68 at 11:48 PM on May 1, 2008

seconding the anniversary party--it's self indulgent but brilliant
posted by jenlyn1123 at 5:36 PM on May 21, 2008

I'm coming in really late to comment, but I recommend Before Sunrise and the sequel Before Sunset.
posted by Xere at 8:15 PM on September 5, 2008

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