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Death of a Salesman Details


It was considered a serious coup at Columbia Pictures when producer Stanley Kramer landed the rights to Arthur Miller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, and got most of the key members of the Broadway cast for the movie, plus Kevin McCarthy from the original London cast. The one exception was Lee J. Cobb, who'd done the part of Willy Loman on Broadway but, because of his alleged past left-wing political associations, couldn't do the movie -- so Kramer and Columbia went with a proven box office star, Fredric March. He plays Willy Loman, who has spent a lifetime pursuing success, only to find himself a failure at age 60, a victim of poor choices, lost opportunities, and unreasonable expectations, especially for his two sons, and in particular the older one, Biff (Kevin McCarthy). Despite the support of his loving, patient wife Linda (Mildred Dunnock, in the performance of a lifetime), Willy's life comes apart along with his hold on reality, as he increasingly slips between the present and the past, reliving incidents in a desperate search for what went wrong. March brings a good deal of dignity to the role, and McCarthy and Cameron Mitchell are superb as his two sons, but the movie was a failure at the time of its release, partly owing to its difficult subject matter -- the failure of the American dream was not the first item on every moviegoer's list in 1951, no matter how successful the play had been on Broadway or how many awards it won -- and also to March's performance, which was just as likely the fault of director Laslo Benedek; he's sympathetic but too externalized, without Cobb's seething energy (represented in the 1960's television portrayal), and in the second half is too over-the-top in his madness. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

  • Release date:December 20, 1951


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Alex North Best Drama or Comedy Score 1951 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Kevin McCarthy New Star of the Year - Male 1951 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Kevin McCarthy Best Supporting Actor 1951 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Mildred Dunnock Best Supporting Actress 1951 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Fredric March Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama 1951 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Fredric March Best Actor 1951 Nominee
Venice International Film Festival Fredric March Volpi Cup for Best Actor 1952 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Laslo Benedek Best Director 1951 Winner
Directors Guild of America Laslo Benedek Best Director 1951 Nominee
British Academy of Film and Television Arts Laslo Benedek Best Film - Any Source 1952 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Franz Planer Best Cinematography - Black and White 1951 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Franz Planer Best Black and White Cinematography 1951 Nominee


Fredric March
as Willy Loman
Mildred Dunnock
as Linda Loman
Kevin McCarthy
as Biff
Cameron Mitchell
as Happy Loman
Royal Beal
as Ben
Don Keefer
as Bernard
Jesse White
as Stanley
Claire Carleton
as Miss Francis
Beverly Aadland
as Girl
Gail Bonney
as Mother
Paul Bryar
as Subway Guard
Jeanne Bates
as Mother
Gail Bonney
as Mother
Beverly Aadland
as Girl
Paul Bryar
as Subway Guard


Laslo Benedek
Stanley Kramer
Stanley Roberts
Arthur Miller
Play Author
Franz Planer
Morris W. Stoloff
Musical Direction/Supervision
Alex North
Composer (Music Score)
William Lyon
Harry Gerstad
Rudolph Sternad
Production Designer
Cary O'Dell
Art Director
William Kiernan
Set Designer