Money Movie: Wall Street Apr 28, 2017
It’s been 30 years since the original Wall Street movie was released, and whether you’ve seen it or not, you’ve probably heard the famous “greed is good” quote. (Fun fact: Gordon Gekko actually says, “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”)
But while the underlying theme of the movie is about greed, from a finance perspective, it’s actually a story about insider trading. That means buying and selling shares when you have access to private information about the company, that gives you an unfair advantage.
The movie is set in 1985, where Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is working as a junior stockbroker on Wall Street. He’s desperate to get to the top, and wants to work with a legendary but unscrupulous broker called Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas).
Bud finally gets to pitch Gekko on some stocks, but he’s uninterested. In a last ditch attempt to win his business, he spills some inside information about the airline company his father Carl Fox (Martin Sheen) works for.
Gekko buys the airline stocks and becomes one of Fox’s clients.
The shady deals continue and Fox becomes ridiculously wealthy. We’re talking corner office with a view, a fancy Manhattan penthouse, and a gorgeous girlfriend (Darryl Hannah) as well.
But when Fox pitches Gekko on buying the whole airline (his father’s employer) that was at the centre of the start of their relationship, things turn nasty. While Gekko’s on board, his plan for the company is not what Fox intended. And it leaves Fox with a huge decision about whether to side with his father or go along with the deal.
Both at the time and in the years since, the film had a big influence on how the world perceived people working on Wall Street. And it shone a light on how and why trading ideas are promoted in the mainstream media.
So the next time you hear a hot stock tip, take a look at this movie, and then consider whether there’s an ulterior motive or the recommendation is aligned with your interests.
“Mr. Stone has dressed up the movie with an exceptionally handsome (and sometimes satiric) physical production, a pounding soundtrack score, a camera so restless and edgy that it defines Bud Fox's ambition better than the screenplay does.”
– NY Times
• Michael Douglas
• Charlie Sheen
• Daryl Hannah
• Martin Sheen
• Hal Holbrook
• Terrence Stamp
• Insider trading – the buying or selling of shares by someone who has access to non-public information about a company
Directed by Oliver Stone, and with Michael Douglas winning an Academy Award for best actor, this movie is a classic that’s well worth a watch.