Wall Street (Oliver Stone, 1987)

“The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

Introduction

Now I only bought this as it was a bargain price – £3 – from the hallowed halls of HMV. The sequel is coming out soon, its one of those ‘classic’ movies about the materialistic eighties and, following watching Natural Born Killers a few months back and, thus, beginning to appreciate Oliver Stone, I thought this would be a good movie to watch. The infamous Gordan Gekko (Douglas) and the incredibly eighties not-so-hot-ness of Daryl Hannah wet my appetite … so, I whacked it in and though it had its good points, there were some problems I found and maybe that is due to my lackof knowledge of stocks and shares…

Opinion

Based in New York – take a guess which street – Wall Street follows Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), an incredible name for a white-collar worker who is the son of blue-collar worker, union representative Carl (Martin Sheen). The ‘elephant’ that Fox wants to catch is Gordan Gekko (Douglas) a HUGE client who will spend alot of money which will bump up his earnings. He meets Gekko, Gekko see’s how pathetic he is but – following Fox giving some information on his Fathers ‘blue star’ airline – Gekko see’s that he may have a financial-incentive with hiring Fox as an insider-trader (a man who illegally finds out problems with a company while people like Gekko take stocks from the company only to sell them off for profit following the companies closure making Gekko a profit but ruining the company itself). So Gekko and Fox are buddies – both feeling they have some parrallel as Gekko himself claims he was born from blue-collar worker parents but he wasn’t going to settle for the low-pay that blue-collar workers get. The plot continues to show incredible speeches on greed by Gekko and Daryl Hannah as an awful love interest for Fox and Gekko. Gekko then nearly ruins the ‘blue star’ airlines Bud Fox’s father works for and that leads to the finale whereby Fox needs to do everything he can to save ‘blue star’…

Gordan Gekko (Douglas) is an incredible chararacter – and if I’m honest – he is the only reason a sequel made. Gekko in a different situation is something that will make fascinating viewing. He has some fantastic lines: “rip out their throats” etc. Then also has a brilliant speech on greed – ultimately specifying the allure of greed and how, in the eighties, it was predominant. It makes me want to watch The Corporation a documentary I haven’t seen – but apparently paints the picture that the perfect capitalist business would be psychologically profiled as a mentally unstable murderer … Gordan Gekko is that representative. Though he doesn’t directly kill anyone, the closure of ‘blue star’ does consequently affect Bud’s dad who then has a heart attack. Nevertheless, Gekko’s statistics on the US of A are shocking: “The richest one percent of this country owns half our country’s wealth, five trillion dollars” and “Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market” – and the big one as quoted above. Kudos to Oliver Stone and Stanley Weiser (who, interestingly wrote a script for another sneaky motherf*****: Bush in W.).

Then there is the love interest: Darian (Daryl Hannah). Oh. My. God. What could be – and should be – an interesting, complex character (she sleeps with both Gekko and Fox… but we are unsure if she really falls for Fox and the history between her and Gekko) turns into a wooden robot who delivers lines with the intensity of a flea. Once you realise how bad she is – following her speech on interior design and artistic taste – every scene she appears in is soured b her prescence. And Daryl Hannah isn’t a bad actress – see Kill Bill and Splash – just in Wall Street she is incredibly bad. Evcen winning a Razzie for her performance.

I found it incredibly difficult to enjoy passionately. I don’t work in stocks and shares and don’t know any bankers either so the life that is shown completely perplexes me – I know nothing. The subtext as Bud Fox has to adopt the role of a cleaner to gain inside information shows how, to succeed, this role asks someone to be something they are not and – if you can do it successfully – you actually come out the other end on top. But you have to have that killer instinct. So, that idea of screwing others over for your own success is something which happens in every workplace and I can relate to knowing people like that. But I felt that Charlie Sheen was a bit too clean cut. Apparently Tom Cruise was considered for the role and, when you think of Cruise’s incredible performance in Jerry Maguire you can see how that business, money-making character can be played incredibly well by Tom Cruise … Charlie Sheen is a cheaper version I feel.

To close – only a brief overview – it is a great film for Gekko but, other than that, beware. The protagonist isn’t as interesting as he could be, the love interest is incredibly weak and finally the context is difficult to fully understand. These problems outweigh the plus-point-that-is Gekko. But it is a fascinating example of capitalism … but I reckon’ there is a better example out there…

[Nb: The poster above looks very similar to the poster for Goodfellas]

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2 comments

  1. This is one of the few films that truly captures the spirit of greed that was rampant on wall street in the 1980's an absolute must see. Douglass and Sheen gave excellent performances, and Gordon Gekko had some classic lines… It shows how difficult it was to avoid the temptions of insider trading during Wall Streets most scandalous decade.

  2. In answer to the question raised at the start, and in opposition to DAMIN, Scarface is a better example of the materialistic eighties – but Wall St does have Gekko and the stocks-and-shares aspects which, obviously, Scarface lacks …

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