- Wall Street (film)
name = Wall Street
caption = Theatrical poster
Edward R. Pressman
writer = Stanley Weiser
Charlie Sheen Michael Douglas Daryl Hannah Martin Sheen Hal Holbrook Terence Stamp John C. McGinley James Spader
cinematography = Robert Richardson
20th Century Fox
December 11, 1987
runtime = 125 minutes
country = USA
language = English
budget = $15,000,000 (estimated)
gross = $43,848,100 (USA)
followed_by = "Money Never Sleeps"
amg_id = 1:53205
imdb_id = 0094291
"Wall Street" is a 1987 American film directed by
Oliver Stoneand features Charlie Sheenas a young stockbroker desperate to succeed and a wealthy but unscrupulous corporate raider( Michael Douglas) whom he idolizes.
Douglas won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Daryl Hannah's performance was not as well received and earned her a Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress. The film has come to be seen as the archetypal portrayal of 1980s excess, with Douglas advocating "greed, for lack of a better word, is good".cite news | last = Ross | first = Brian | coauthors = | title = Greed on Wall Street | work = ABC News| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = November 11, 2005| url = http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=1305010 | accessdate = 2008-03-18 ]
An ambitious young stockbroker, Bud Fox (played by
Charlie Sheen), is desperate to get to the top. He schemes to become involved with his hero, the extremely successful but unscrupulous corporate raider Gordon Gekko( Michael Douglas).
Gekko is a ruthless and legendary Wall Street player whose values couldn't conflict more with those of Bud's father Carl (
Martin Sheen). Bud, caught in the middle, pitches his father's company to Gekko with the intentions of saving it while everyone gets rich in the process. Carl is a maintenance chief at a small airline, Bluestar, and learns it will soon be cleared of a safety violation after a previous crash. The ruling will bring the airline out from under government suspension, allowing it to expand its business.
Fox tips off Gekko with this inside information. An appreciative Gekko takes Fox under his wing but compels him to unearth new information by any means necessary. Bud becomes wealthy, enjoying Gekko's promised perks, including a fancy condo and a trophy blonde, interior decorator Darien (
Things change when Gekko decides to sell off Bluestar's assets, an act that would leave Carl and the entire Bluestar staff out of work. Betrayed by Gekko and wracked with the guilt of being an accessory to Bluestar's destruction, Bud resolves to disrupt Gekko's plans. He angrily breaks up with Darien, who refuses to plot against Gekko, a former lover and the architect of her career.
Bud devises a plan in which he will manipulate Bluestar's stock value so that Gekko will decide to sell off his stock in the company. It will then be picked up at a lower price by Gekko's rival, corporate raider Sir Lawrence Wildman (
Terence Stamp), who will become the airline's new majority shareholder. Gekko, realizing that his stock is plummeting, lashes out furiously at Fox and finally decides to dump his remaining interest in the company. Only later does Gekko learn that Fox engineered the entire scheme.
Bud triumphantly goes back to work the following day, where everyone is curiously in a somber mood. He enters his office where he is greeted by law enforcement officials and representatives of the
Securities and Exchange Commission. Bud is placed under arrest for violating federal securities laws, is handcuffed and led out of the office in tears.
Sometime later, Fox confronts Gekko in Central Park. Gekko viciously assaults Fox, but not before mentioning several of their illegal business transactions. Fox is wearing a wire, and the police presumably will use this recording as state's evidence, although Gekko's fate is left ambiguous (though writer Stanley Weiser wrote recently in the L.A. Times that Gekko does, in fact, go to jail). The film ends with Bud arriving at the courthouse, ready to atone for his crimes and greed.
After the success of "Platoon", Stone wanted film school friend and
Los Angelesscreenwriter Stanley Weiser to research and write a screenplay about quiz show scandalsin the 1950s.cite news | last = Weiser | first = Stanley | coauthors = | title = Wall Street's Message was not "Greed is Good" | work = Los Angeles Times| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = October 5, 2008| url = | accessdate = ] During a story conference, Stone suggested making a film about Wall Street instead. The director pitched the premise of two investment partners getting involved in questionable financial dealings, using each other, and they are tailed by a prosecutor like in " Crime and Punishment". The director had been thinking about this kind of a movie as early as 1981.cite news | last = Riordan | first = James | coauthors = | title = Stone: A Biography of Oliver Stone | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = Aurum Press | date = September 18, 1996| url = | accessdate = ] He knew a New York businessman who was making millions and working long days putting together deals all over the world. This man started making mistakes that cost him everything. Stone remembers that the "story frames what happens in my movie, which is basically a "Pilgrim’s Progress" of a boy who is seduced and corrupted by the allure of easy money. And in the third act, he sets out to redeem himself". Stone asked Weiser to read "Crime and Punishment" but the writer found that its story did not mix well with their own. Stone then asked Weiser to read " The Great Gatsby" for material that they could use but it was not the right fit either.
Weiser had no prior knowledge of the financial world and immersed himself in researching the world of stock trading, junk bonds and corporate takeovers. He and Stone spent three weeks visiting brokerage houses and interviewing investors. Reportedly, Bud Fox is said to be a composite of Owen Morrisey, who was involved in a $20 million insider trading scandal in 1985,
Dennis Levine, Ivan Boesky, and others.cite news | last = Crowdus | first = Gary | coauthors = | title = Personal Struggles and Political Issues | work = Cineaste | pages = | language = | publisher = | date = 1987 | url = http://www.cineaste.com/articles/stone-interview.pdf | accessdate = 2007-02-26 ] For example, the famous "Greed is good" line was based on a speech by Boesky where he said, "Greed is right", that Stone read and it stuck with him. Weiser wrote the first draft, initially called "Greed", with Stone writing another draft. Originally, the lead character was a young Jewish broker named Freddie Goldsmith but Stone changed it to Bud Fox to avoid the theory that Wall Street was controlled by Jews. In developing the character of Gordon Gekko was a composite of Boesky, corporate raider Carl Icahn, art collector Asher Edelman, agent Michael Ovitz, and Stone himself. According to Weiser, Gekko’s style of speaking was inspired by Stone. "When I was writing some of the dialogue I would listen to Oliver on the phone and sometimes he talks very rapid-fire, the way Gordon Gekko does". Stone cites as influences on his approach to business, the novels of Upton Sinclair, Sinclair Lewisand Victor Hugo, and the films of Paddy Chayefskybecause they were able to make a complicated subject clear to the audience.cite news | last = Scott | first = Jay | coauthors = | title = Stone Gets Down to Business on "Wall Street" | work = Globe and Mail| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 4, 1987| url = | accessdate = ] Stone set the film in 1985 because insider trading scandals culminated in 1985 and 1986.
Stone met with
Tom Cruiseabout playing Bud Fox, but the director had already committed to Charlie Sheen for the role. Michael Douglas had just come off heroic roles like the one in " Romancing the Stone" and was looking for something dark and edgy. The studio wanted Warren Beattyto play Gekko but he was not interested. Stone initially wanted Richard Gerebut the actor passed, so the director went with Douglas despite having been advised by others in Hollywoodnot to cast him. Stone remembers, "I was warned by everyone in Hollywood that Michael couldn't act, that he was a producer more than an actor and would spend all his time in his trailer on the phone". But the director found out that "when he's acting he gives it his all".cite news | last = McGuigan | first = Cathleen | coauthors = | title = A Bull Market in Sin | work = Newsweek| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 14, 1987| url = | accessdate = ] The director says that he saw "that villain quality" in the actor and always thought he was a smart businessman. The actor remembers that when he first read the screenplay, "I thought it was a great part. It was a long script, and there were some incredibly long and intense monologues to open with. I’d never seen a screenplay where there were two or three pages of single-spaced type for a monologue. I thought, whoa! I mean, it was unbelievable". For research, he read profiles of corporate raiders T. Boone Pickensand Carl Icahn.
Daryl Hannahas Bud Fox’s materialistic girlfriend, but she had problems relating to her character and struggled with the role. The director was aware early on that she was not right for it. "Daryl Hannah was not happy doing the role and I should have let her go. All my crew wanted to get rid of her after one day of shooting. My pride was such that I kept saying I was going to make it work". Stone also had difficulties with Sean Young, who made her opinions known that Hannah should be fired and that she should play that role instead. Young would show up to the set late and unprepared. She did not get along with Charlie Sheen, which caused further friction on the set. In retrospect, Stone felt that Young was right and he should have swapped Hannah's role with hers.
Stone wanted to shoot the movie in
New York Cityand that required a budget of at least $15 million, a moderate shooting budget by 1980s standards. The studio that backed "Platoon" felt that it was too risky a project to bankroll and passed. Stone and producer Edward R. Pressmantook it to 20th Century Foxand filming began in April 1987 and ended on July 4.cite news | last = Blair | first = Cynthia | coauthors = | title = 1987: "Wall Street" Filmed in New York City | work = Newsday| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = 2008 | url = http://www.newsday.com/other/special/ny-ihiny090904story,0,2269738.htmlstory | accessdate = 2008-03-18 ]
According to Stone, he was "making a movie about sharks, about feeding frenzies. Bob [director of photography Robert Richardson and I wanted the camera to become a predator. There is no letup until you get to the fixed world of Charlie’s father, where the stationary camera gives you a sense of immutable values". The director saw Wall Street as a battle zone and "filmed it as such" including shooting conversations like physical confrontations and in ensemble shots had the camera circle the actors "in a way that makes you feel you're in a pool with sharks".cite news | last = Wuntch | first = P | coauthors = | title = Stone's War on Wall St | work = Herald | pages = | language = | publisher = | date =
December 21, 1987| url = | accessdate = ]
Jeffrey "Mad Dog" Beck, a star investment banker at the time with
Drexel Burnham Lambert, was one of the film's technical advisers and has a cameo appearancein the film as the man speaking at the meeting discussing the breakup of Bluestar. Kenneth Lipper, investment banker and former deputy mayor of New York for Finance and Economic Development, was also hired as chief technical adviser.cite news | last = Cowan | first = Alison | coauthors = | title = Making "Wall Street" Look Like Wall Street | work = New York Times| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 30, 1987| url = | accessdate = ] At first, he turned Stone down because he felt that the film would be a one-sided attack. Stone asked him to reconsider and Lipper read the script responding with a 13-page critique.cite news | last = Welles | first = Chris | coauthors = | title = The Platoon of Pros Who Helped Out on "Wall Street" | work = Business Week| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 21, 1987| url = | accessdate = ] For example, he argued that it was unrealistic to have all the characters be "morally bankrupt". Lipper advised Stone on the kind of computers used on the trading floor, the correct proportion of women at a business meeting, and the kinds of extras that should be seated at the annual shareholders meeting where Gekko delivers his "Greed is good" speech. Stone agreed with Lipper's criticism and asked him to rewrite the script. Lipper brought a balance to the film and this helped Stone get permission to shoot on the floor the New York Stock Exchangeduring trading hours. Lipper and Stone disagreed over the character of Lou Mannheim. Stone shot a scene showing the honest Mannheim giving in to insider trading and Lipper argued that audiences might conclude that everyone on Wall Street is corrupt and insisted that the film needed an unimpeachable character. Stone cut the scene. Stone also consulted with Carl Icahn, Asher Edelman, convicted inside trader David Brown, and several government prosecutors, and Wall Street investment bankers.cite news | last = Lipper | first = Hal | coauthors = | title = The Stone Age | work = St. Petersburg Times | pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 13, 1987| url = | accessdate = ] In addition, traders were brought in to coach actors on the set on how to hold phones, write out tickets, and talk to clients.
"Wall Street" was released on
December 11, 1987in 730 theaters and grossed USD$4.1 million on its opening weekend. It went on to make $43.8 million in North America.cite news | last = | first = | coauthors = | title = "Wall Street" | work = Box Office Mojo | pages = | language = | publisher = | date = | url = http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=wallstreet.htm | accessdate = 2008-03-18 ]
The film was well-received critically. It has an 81% rating on
Rotten Tomatoesand a 56 metascore on Metacritic. In his review for the " New York Times", Vincent Canbypraised Douglas' work as "the funniest, canniest performance of his career".cite news | last = Canby | first = Vincent | coauthors = | title = Stone's "Wall Street" | work = New York Times| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 11, 1987| url = http://movies2.nytimes.com/mem/movies/review.html?_r=1&res=9B0DE6D61E38F932A25751C1A961948260&oref=slogin | accessdate = 2007-05-22 ] Roger Ebertgave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and praised it for allowing "all the financial wheeling and dealing to seem complicated and convincing, and yet always have it make sense. The movie can be followed by anybody, because the details of stock manipulation are all filtered through transparent layers of greed. Most of the time we know what's going on. All of the time, we know why".cite news | last = Ebert | first = Roger | coauthors = | title = "Wall Street" | work = Chicago Sun-Times| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 11, 1987| url = http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19871211/REVIEWS/712110302/1023 | accessdate = 2008-03-18 ] Richard Corliss, in his review for "Time", wrote, "This time he works up a salty sweat to end up nowhere, like a triathlete on a treadmill. But as long as he keeps his players in venal, perpetual motion, it is great scary fun to watch him work out".cite news | last = Corliss | first = Richard | coauthors = | title = A Season Of Flash And Greed | work = Time | pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 14, 1987| url = http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,966222,00.html | accessdate = 2008-08-20 ] In his review for the " Globe and Mail", Jay Scottpraised the performances of the two leads: "But Douglas's portrayal of Gordon Gekko is an oily triumph and as the kid Gekko thinks he has found in Fox ("Poor, smart and hungry; no feelings"), Charlie Sheen evolves persuasively from gung ho capitalist child to wily adolescent corporate raider to morally appalled adult".cite news | last = Scott | first = Jay | coauthors = | title = Stone paves "Wall Street" in Blood | work = Globe and Mail| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 11, 1987| url = | accessdate = ] Rita Kempley in the " Washington Post" wrote that the film "is at its weakest when it preaches visually or verbally. Stone doesn't trust the time-honored story line, supplementing the obvious moral with plenty of soapboxery".cite news | last = Kempley | first = Rita | coauthors = | title = "Wall Street" | work = Washington Post| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = December 11, 1987| url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/wallstreetrkempley_a09f97.htm | accessdate = 2008-03-18 ]
Over the years, the film's screenwriter Stanley Weiser has been approached by numerous people who told him, "The movie changed my life. Once I saw it I knew that I wanted to get into such and such business. I wanted to be like Gordon Gekko". In recent years, Stone was asked how the financial market depicted in "Wall Street" has changed and he replied, "The problems that existed in the 1980s market grew and grew into a much larger phenomenon.
Enronis a fiction, in a sense, in the same way that Gordon Gekko's buying and selling was a fiction . . . Kenny Lay--he's the new Gordon Gekko".cite news | last = Sigesmund | first = B.J | coauthors = | title = The Return of Greed | work = Newsweek| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = 2002 | url = http://www.newsweek.com/id/100454 | accessdate = 2008-10-09 ]
A 20th Anniversary Edition was released on
September 18, 2007. New extras include an on-camera introduction by Stone, extensive deleted scenes, "Greed is Good" featurettes, and new on-camera interviews with Michael Douglas and Martin Sheen.cite news
title = "Wall Street": 20th Anniversary Edition
publisher = DavisDVD
June 6, 2007
url = http://www.davisdvd.com/news/dvd.html
accessdate = 2007-06-06 ]
May 5, 2007, the " New York Times" reported that a sequel, "Money Never Sleeps", is currently in pre-production. Michael Douglaswill reprise his role as Gordon Gekko, but both Charlie Sheen and Oliver Stone will be absent from the sequel.cite news | last = Cieply | first = Michael | coauthors = | title = Film’s Wall Street Predator to Make a Comeback | work = New York Times| pages = | language = | publisher = | date = May 5, 2007| url = http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/05/movies/05movi.html?ex=1336017600&en=64f8ac17912072b8&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss | accessdate = 2007-05-07 ] [cite news |title = Wall Street sequel 'to be made' | publisher = BBC|url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6628101.stm | date = May 5, 2007| accessdate = 2008-01-13]
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