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Who's seen the 1951 version of "Death of a Salesman?"


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Apparently TCM doesn't own the rights to broadcast this 1951 *Oscar contender w/*Fredric March


Also superbly remade for tv in 1985 w/*D. Hoffman


But, whats the entire story & obviously TCM cannot as yet *"The Godfather-epics" either



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The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II aired back-to-back on TCM nearly 10 years ago at this time in August, 2006. It's the one and only time either movie has ever aired on TCM. Someone said on a long-ago message board post that TCM showed some skillful maneuvering and leaped on the opportunity to essentially purchase one-day rights to the film during an incredibly short window when one very long-term contract elapsed and another started, Not sure who has the rights to the film now. I know AMC did at one time. And earlier this year HBO showed the mash-up version that runs all the scenes from the two movies in chronological order, The Godfather Saga  with additional footage, but that may be a separate rights issue from the actual films.


I looked at Movie Collector OH's database, and you're correct. It doesn't appear the Frederic March version of Salesman has ever aired on TCM. It was a Stanley Kramer production and a Columbia release. TCM has seemed to have a good relationship with Sony over the years. Of the studios outside the TCM "library", I would venture a guess we see more from Columbia than any other, so I'm not sure why this one has never shown up. Of course, as we all know, just because Studio X produced a certain film back in the day doesn't mean they still have the rights. See the 20-year chunk of Paramount films now owned by Universal. 


One poster on imdb suggests Arthur Miller had a vehement dislike for this film version because of the way it presented the flashback scenes the film has been virtually barred from television or official VHS or DVD release out of deference to his wishes. 



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I have a beautiful 16mm print of the 1951 March version and a B&W kinescope of the 1966 Lee J. Cobb broadcast.  The latter has been released on tape and disc in color from videotape.  The March film is essential because it features Alex North's score.  One interesting thing about the 1951 version - the trailer includes Willy's great line "He's crying, why is he crying?" but that line is not in the feature itself.  Maybe Harry Cohn squrmed at that point!

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I think I've seen every version of this play. It is too bad that TCM cannot show it as it is well worth watching.

Though the Dustin Hoffman version is well acted he seemed a bit too young for the part, but did his best. Seeing Lee J. Cobb's version from television, showcased the differences between his characterization and that of the 1951 movie, with Frederic March who did chew up the scenery a bit.


It would be great though on a double bill on TCM with the Maysles documentary from Criterion called "Salesman":


  • United States
  • 1968
  • 91 minutes
  • Black and White
  • 1.33:1
  • English
  • Spine #122

A landmark American documentary, Salesman captures in vivid detail the bygone era of the door-to-door salesman. While laboring to sell a gold-embossed version of the Good Book, Paul Brennan and his colleagues target the beleaguered masses—then face the demands of quotas and the frustrations of life on the road. Following Brennan on his daily rounds, the Maysles discover a real-life Willy Loman, walking the line from hype to despair.

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