In celebration of the 30th Anniversary of “Trading Places”, the folks at Bloomberg have remarked that it could be the best business movie ever made. We concur.
It is an extremely quotable movie, with lines such as, “This is the sports watch of the 1980s. It tells time simultaneously in Monte Carlo, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome, and Gstaad.” We have always been amused by that one since Monte Carlo, Paris, Rome, and Gstaad are in the same time zone.
Our favourite silent reaction is one where Eddie Murphy looks straight at the camera thinking, are these guys for real?
The reason we prefer “Trading Places” over “Wall Street” is the latter took itself so seriously. The only thing more depressing is “Boiler Room”. This was so much more fun and entertaining. A great retrospective take on the 80s though is “American Psycho”.
A new movie is coming out called “The Wolf of Wall Street”, which is basically a 21st century Gatsby. The trailer has us hoping for the best.
The current discussion of “Trading Places” has raised the question of which other business or finance movies are worth watching. As a cinephiles, here is how we would fill out the AFI ballot of a hypothetical Finance Movie List:
- Trading Places: as discussed above
- American Psycho: This is a great satirical retrospective on the 1980s. The obsession with exterior appearance is amazing. Watch out for the business card scene. It is quite quotable.
- “Do you like Huey Lewis and the News?”
- “Excuse me, I have lunch with Cliff Huxtable at the Four Seasons.”
- “Is that Ivana Trump?”
- Working Girl: We are going to be contrarian here and not list Wall Street yet. Working Girl is actually a pretty iconic 80s movie. We think it really captures the upwardly mobile ethos of the 1980s more so than any of the movies on this list. And it does it in a far more optimistic tone than most movies that comment on capitalism. Watch for a great cameo by a slimy Kevin Spacey. This is a movie about The American Dream. And We love the cinematography; take the opening scene as an example below. Nominated for some major Oscars, including Best Picture.
- Wall Street: Brought us iconic lines like “Blue Horseshoe loves Endicott Steel”. Yes, we think Michael Douglas became Gordon Gekko, and to a certain extent he was typecast into similar roles for a while. But we would rather end our movie experience with the final scene of Working Girl instead of the final scene of Wall Street.
- Barbarians at the Gate: This is a lot of fun and loosely based on real life. Henry Kravis is not British!
- The Secret of My Success: We haven’t seen this in years, but we remembered enjoying seeing if Michael J. Fox could fake it ’til he made it.
- Margin Call: We do not think this lived up to the promise of the premise. It had Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, and Demi Moore. The entry level analysts were Spock and Gossip Girl.
- Boiler Room: We just didn’t like this one…
There are a few movies that do not fall squarely in the Wall Street/Finance genre, but they do fall in the Business genre. The press ones are great: we would rank “Citizen Kane” first and “Sweet Smell of Success” second. “Pirates of Silicon Valley” is fun but niche; we think Noah Wyle does a better Jobs than Ashton Kutcher, but we shall see what happens when that biopic comes out. Another great biopic is “The Aviator” which we would put right behind “Wall Street” and “Tucker” which we would put somewhere below the median. In “The Thomas Crown Affair” remake, Brosnan is in M&A and in the original, McQueen is an arbitrageur. We prefer the McQueen one, but both are more about heists than business. And of course in the “Iron Man” and “Batman” franchises, you have CEOs by day, but those movies are not about business really…