The Face in the Mirror (I Wonder) (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #493 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]

I was utterly charmed by this Jam Handy sales training film. In it, a salesman on his day off gets sent by his wife on a shopping spree in one of those downtown areas that don’t exist anymore. There he deals with salesmen from terrible to excellent in all the different stores he goes into. And this was in the days before self-service in retail, so he has to deal with salesmen in all of them. After buying a bunch of stuff, he drops in on his boss (why, I don’t know, since it’s his day off––must be a workaholic) who encourages him to use the experiences he had with salesmen that day to help him sell better himself. This is actually one of the most effective Jam Handy films I’ve seen. Although working in sales is anathema to me, I found myself being swept along by the message of this film that selling mainly involves being friendly, helpful, and considerate of your customers, along with knowing your product and being enthusiastic about it. The successful salesmen show a masterful knowledge of psychology in the way they smoothly convince the main character to buy without making him feel like he’s been sold something. And the simple, commonsense advice given in the film makes sales seem a much friendlier, and less exploitative, a profession. The film is also appealing from a historical perspective, in showing a way of shopping that doesn’t exist anymore. Jam Handy has made some stinkers, some howlers, and some films that are extremely weird, but this film shows that when he was at his best, his films were right on the money in conveying the message they were designed to convey.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.

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