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Cass' review of
Door to Door

Door to Door

Door to Door
Rated TV-PG-13; running time of 90 minutes
Genre: Drama
Narrated by: Whoopi Goldberg
Based on Shelly Brady's novel: Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter
Written by: William H. Macy and Steven Schachter
Directed by: Steven Schachter
Cast: William H. Macy, Helen Mirren, Kyra Sedgwick, Kathy Baker Alan Arkin, Samantha Canter, Sean Tyler Foley, James Cromwell
Official site:,5918,341694,00.html
IMDB site:

Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2002

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“Know Your Limits and Reach Beyond Them.” -- Bill Porter

CASS' CLIP (WARNING: **spoilers below**)

Oregonian, Bill Porter (William H. Macy), is an unlikely door-to-door salesman. Unlikely for two reasons – (1) he has cerebral palsy; and (2) he is an honest man. Bill’s goal of financially supporting himself seemed unattainable in the eyes of “normal” people. Bill should have accepted that he was handicapped and lived on government assistance. However, Bill didn't allow his affliction to stop him from getting on with his life. He simply used his functional mind, which happened to be confined in a body that didn't work 100%, and made life work for him. For years, Bill was considered unemployable until the Watkins Company hired him as a door-to-door salesman to sell household products.

Although the Watkins Company gave him a chance, Bill faced many obstacles along the way. First, he was given the Westside territory, which was considered one of Portland’s worst neighborhoods. Second, because Bill’s speech is somewhat slurred, convincing potential customers to be patient enough to listen to his sales pitch was challenging. Third, due to his cerebral palsy, pounding the pavement from house to house was more arduous. Finally, his income was commission-based only. [Bill knew he was up to task because as a young boy, he watched his father, who was a salesman’s himself, hone his top-notch selling skills].

Bill’s dedicated mother, Irene Porter (Helen Mirren), inspired him to reach beyond the expectations of others, and encouraged him to outwit those naysayers with his abilities. And that he did. Bill has worked for the Watkins Company for over 40 years, and his years of dedicated service and hard work earned him an award for being one of their top salesmen. Bill no longer pounds the pavement but he continues to sell Watkins products by telephone and via the Internet.

DA 411

I first saw Bill Porter’s story several years ago on 20/20 during Hugh Down’s heartwarming segment about an unlikely salesman. All Bill wanted was to live a “normal” life in a world not accustomed to treating disabled individuals with dignity and respect. In order to survive, Bill simply turned a blind-eye to those who were unwilling to look passed his outward appearance and accepted the kindness of those who saw him as a man. Door to Door spans some 40 years of Bill Porter’s remarkable life, as well as the lives of the customers he unwittingly touched each time they opened their doors. Also, after Bill’s mother, Irene, was stricken with Alzheimer’s, Bill worked tirelessly to pay for her nursing home expenses and financially supported her until her death.

Oscar-nominated actor William H. Macy’s uncanny portrayal of Bill Porter is absolutely brilliant and he gives another Emmy winning performance. (On the surface, William Macy appears to be quite quirky himself, which makes him an excellent character actor -- e.g., ER, Fargo, A Civil Action, and Panic). Rounding out the cast is Oscar-nominated actress Helen Mirren, in the role of Bill’s supportive mother, Irene Porter. Kathy Baker, a reclusive alcoholic, was one of Bill’s best customers, and Kyra Sedgwick, portrayed Bill’s endearing, yet no nonsense assistant, Shelly Brady. Highlighting her relationship with Bill and the invaluable lessons he taught her such as, "Persistence Pays Off,” Shelly wrote the book, Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter, and William H. Macy wrote the foreword. Mr. Macy’s persistence also paid off because he won top honors at the 2002 Screen Actor’s Guild award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. His performance also garnered him a 2002 Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television.


The next time I’m depressed about my life, I’ll remember Bill Porter’s dogged determination to live his life on his own terms, no matter how many doors he had to open.

Door to Door:   green

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Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2002

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