Written and directed by Barry Levinson, Tin Men is set in Baltimore in 1963 – a time when aluminium siding salesmen (aka “tin men”) reigned supreme in a certain segment of society and the gift of the gab and a cleverly executed scheme could transform an ordinary salesman’s gig into a lifestyle with all the freedom and flamboyance once seen in historical Western heroes.
The two competing salesmen – Bill “BB” Babowsky (Richard Dreyfuss) and Ernest Tilley (Danny DeVito) – are sworn enemies throughout most of the movie after Tilley slams into a brand-new Cadillac driven by BB, and an instant enmity is formed.
This plot device sets off a series of attempts to get even by auto devastation, and finally – and more deviously – when the confirmed bachelor BB decides to hit on Tilley’s wife, Nora (Barbara Hershey).
BB and Tilley each work with a partner, and each has a group he hangs out with. In Tilley’s case, it’s Sam (Jackie Gayle), Gil (Stanley Brock) and Mouse (Bruno Kirby), while BB has an extremely slick partner in Moe (John Mahoney).
Some of the funniest moments are the outrageous scams perpetrated against unsuspecting homeowners, like the Life magazine routine in which a homeowner is told their dingy home is going to be used as the ‘Before’ example in the magazine’s home improvement issue.
Fine Young Cannibals perform four songs as part of the soundtrack.
BB (Bill Babowsky)