Wall Street Movie
“They love that quality of take no prisoners ... if I have one more person, it’s so depressing and sad, they come up to me and say, you know, you’re the reason that I got into Wall Street ... that’s a, that’s a sad commentary.” —Michael Douglas
There is a fabulous irony to “Wall Street” that perhaps can’t be adequately explained.
The movie is an unequivocal denunciation of Wall Street excess but remains the preeminent film of those aspiring to it. They love anything Gekko, and a lot of the other scenes too.
Michael Douglas was a savvy Hollywood producer but apparently wasn’t much of a Wall Street aficionado before the film was shot. He understands that his character is not so much a stock speculator, but a nouveau riche success story. He lifts Gordon Gekko to the same level as Michael Corleone, an endlessly admirable bad guy. Douglas’ Gekko never realizes how cool and funny he is. It is too easy to forget about the Bud Fox story and simply await the next Gekko appearance. He’s right about everything, but only in the most cynical way. One wonders if “Wall Street” might have been a blockbuster in the mold of “The Godfather” had Gekko been the protagonist, seizing control of a firm and dominating the financial world in a method similar to Michael Milken. Douglas is reportedly working on a sequel featuring Gekko. But that is not this movie.
Many think of the movie merely as Gordon Gekko, greed is good. “Wall Street” is a common coming-of-age narrative, a young man discovering whether he will follow the good guys or the bad guys. What makes it unique is the setting. Oliver Stone was drawn to this concept because his father was a stockbroker, exemplified by the Hal Holbrook character, and because Wall Street, by the mid-1980s, was suddenly controversial. There were junk bond kings, leveraged buyouts, hostile takeovers. People making lots of “easy” money without necessarily delivering a public benefit.