December 25, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

Jack Lemmon copped an Oscar upstaging Henry Fonda in 1955’s Mister Roberts and has been strutting his rubbery, jittery stuff to great acclaim ever since. But his dead-ended salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross, Shelley ”the Machine” Levene, is a capstone role — a universe of humiliation packed into a cheap, shrunken suit, a rattling Gatling gun for David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning sleazebag dialogue. ”The er‘s, ah‘s, um‘s — every single one is written, and by God, there’s a reason,” Lemmon says. His hopeless profile lit blue against a red wall is an American icon tougher and truer than any Arthur Miller ever made. Attention must be paid to this man! Or at least a career-crowning Oscar.

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