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Door to Door

1 rating: 5.0
A movie directed by Steven Schachter

Door to door salesmen aren't usually associated with changing lives. This made-for-cable tells the story of salesman Bill Porter who came into contact with numerous people during his decades of knocking on doors. Porter, suffering from cerebral palsy, … see full wiki

Cast: Kathy Baker
Release Date: 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about Door to Door

Door To Door - the story of Bill Porter, Watkins Salesman

  • May 18, 2006
Rating:
+5
Pros: Macy's acting is incredible

Cons: none

The Bottom Line: "Take so long to answer Lord
knows it ain't the milkman
would be stoppin' early sellin'
door to door."
CCR

Back in my youth we had no malls, shopping centers, mega grocery stores, and so forth for our shopping convenience. Instead the much needed items we required were delivered directly to our homes. ‘Dan, Dan, the Omar man’ delivered our fresh bakery products, and Bill delivered our dairy products.

We had a “secret” door that opened from the back porch and was lined to keep things cool. Bill would open that little door up, retrieve our empty milk bottles [glass ones] and our note for what we needed for the week, then deposit our fresh items in the secret compartment. When we returned home at the end of the day, this secret door opened from the kitchen side and we could get our fresh dairy for the week. They were paid by leaving cash money in an envelope, right out in the open, and no one took the money except the party it was intended for.

Doctors and vets came to our house, we didn’t go to them. The doctor dispensed your drugs, you didn’t need to make a trip to the pharmacy if you were too ill. That’s one thing I still don’t understand - you are too sick to sit up and drive, yet you have to go to the doctor and the pharmacy. Hello?

Groceries were obtained in various ways. You had the corner grocery where you called your order in and they delivered it to your home, put it away for you too! Then there were the door-to-door salesmen. They also had grocery items that they delivered to your home as well as cosmetics, home remedies, cooking utensils, clothing, books, and, well, everything.

Two of the most noticeable ones were The Fuller Brush Company and The Watkins Company.

Bill Porter was a salesman for The Watkins Company. His journey into the world of sales was met with many stone walls and stumbling paths. Bill Porter has cerebral palsy. Unable to drive, he was required to walk the route each day, leaving home early in the morning and returning late at night. This movie, Door To Door, is the story of Porter’s life.

Bill’s father was a successful salesman but by the time the movie starts, his father has already passed away. However, while alive, he insisted that Bill find a way to support himself. Bill’s mother believed he could succeed at anything he tried, and what he wanted to try was sales. The Watkins Company refused to hire Bill because of his infirmities, something they’d never get away with today. His speech was slurred, his back was bent, one arm twisted behind him, the other barely able to hold a pen. Bill, however, would not give up.

He pleaded with them to offer him their worst route, then he pleaded for a month. In the end Bill Porter was given Salesman Of The Year, an award he worked many long and tiring years to obtain.

His trials were many. Unable to drive, he depended on his mother to transport him to his route daily and then deliver the products he sold. Unfortunately, after a time, she was afflicted with what I believe was Alzheimers, although they never stated that. He then hired an assistant to help him. She became more than an assistant, she became a true friend to Bill over the years.

Some of his customers avoided him, simply because of his countenance. Bill won them over. In fact, Bill Porter became so involved with his customers daily lives that he mended many fences for them and fueled a few romances along the way. Alone romantically throughout his life, he was unaware that ‘someone’ had strong feelings for him, something he didn’t discover until it was way too late.

Eventually, as all things progress, the internet and telemarketing came into play. Bill was an old horse, still typed his orders, painfully slow, on an old manual typewriter. It wasn’t long until The Watkins Company had little need for a dinosaur like Bill Porter, but he wasn’t one to let progress slow him down. To this day he leads a remarkable life, at the age of 73.

Acting
I cannot say enough about the abilities of William Macy in the part of Bill Porter. His stance and mannerisms were wonderfully done and he held true to character throughout the film. He won several awards for his portrayal and was nominated for many others. He brought just enough empathy to the role to give it feeling but more so brought strength and determination.

Macy also co-wrote this film, along with the director, Steven Schachter.

Kyra Sedgwick played the part of his assistant, Shelly. While I enjoyed her interaction with Porter, I just felt she fell flat a few times. Just my opinion of course.

An outstanding job by Kathy Baker brought another side to the story. Although it wasn’t a huge part in the movie, it still had a lot of impact, especially as the story progressed.

Bill Porter’s story came forward as he neared his internet forced retirement from Watkins. A reporter stops by his home, asking to write a story about his life. Porter refuses but the reporter does it anyway. The truly unique thing about this reporter was the fact that he was the son of one of Porter’s customers. In fact, it is because of this son, when he was a small child, that Porter almost lost his job with Watkins because they had complained that Porter scared their son, by his appearance, when he knocked at the door.

The child, grown to a man, had come to realize, as we all did by this point, that Bill Porter was one of a dying breed - a person that has compassion and complete devotion to his fellow man and his own work ethic.

I might also mention that Bill Porter probably has one of the quickest wits I've heard and he may be solely responsible for all those bad "salesmen" jokes.

This is an outstanding movie that I highly recommend.

Thanks,
Susi

To quote Bill Porter: for all your tough cleaning needs go to: http://www.billporter.com


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