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Friday, May 13, 2016

Friday Feature Movie Review: Wall Street: An Oliver Stone Film 1987 ウォールストリートオリバーストーンフィルム

Greed is Good! This classic phrase has lived on to represent finance for decades since this Oliver Stone film was released in 1987. Gordon Gekko, the main villain of this movie became the new anti-hero for a new generation within finance. He is played perfectly by Michael Douglas in arguably his best iconic role on film. 

Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, gets to play every financial professional's dream.  To start out in the trenches and rise up to become a real "player" like "GG" (aka Gordon Gekko). At the time, that took around US$50-100 million dollars in cash. Today I would assume that a billionaire would have to be the next new benchmark of financial success. 

The director's casting is also interesting as Martin Sheen, plays Carl Fox, Charlie Sheen or Bud Fox's father in the movie not just in real life. On a side note, Martin is shown in hospital after the heart attack. In real life, that scene was shot right after Martin actually had a real heart attack. The tears for Charlie Sheen were said to be easy to muster as the memory was so recent. It was also the first scene shot with Martin Sheen, hence a limited amount of dialogue from a hospital bed. This may be one of Oliver Stone's best casting choices.

Blue Star airlines where Carl Fox works in charge of the maintenance men, becomes important. It becomes a key stock target as the overfunded pension fund is too attractive a pot of gold to be left alone by GG. Another key scene is how to tip off the press by calling a key journalist. "Blue horse shoe loves Blue Star Airlines". Making such a risky call from a corporate desk on a recorded line seems odd today. Why not use a pay phone? At least it was not in an email.

The key point of the film is how information is the ultimate currency and path to riches. Sun Tzu and the "Art of War" is also introduced as a new Wall Street bible to learn strategy and insight from. What is legal, what is not, and what is in the grey zone of profitability versus bendable rules that are "just a guide" is what the moral of the storyline tries to explain. Machiavelli does not get the last laugh. In this movie, "the end does not justify the means" it just gets a person in jail. The pursuit of money has a cost, nobody is above the law. That lesson rings very true to the viewer.

Despite its age, only the electronic technology is dated. The people, their actions, and how they speak, all seem as contemporary today and it was in original release almost 30 years ago. It was no lucky accident that this was the case. Oliver Stone's father was a career stockbroker and tremendous care was taken in making sure that the script was very authentic. It still stands well against the test of time. Highly Recommended!

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