On the Trading Floor: 5 Movies About Wall Street
While most people may have money invested in mutual funds, stocks or their company's 401K program, quite a few people look at Wall Street as some enchanted land of mystery far beyond their comprehension. Perhaps that's why Hollywood turns to Wall Street and investments with surprising frequency as a subject for feature films. Many movies show how the system can be corrupted and that a few corrupt individuals can cause shocking problems.
"Rogue Trader" (1999).
This is the story of British stock trader Nick Leeson, who brought down an established British trading house in the span of just a few days with a number of unauthorized trades. Played by Ewan McGregor, the rogue trader was able to win the confidence of his superiors and then make trades that clients never wanted nor confirmed. The film demonstrated how easy it is to destroy financial lives in a very short period of time.
"Trading Places" (1983).
This classic comedy with Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd is about how corrupt the financial system is and how easy it is for the rich and powerful to manipulate the system. Aykroyd plays a privileged and moneyed investor (Louis Winthorpe III) while Murphy (Billy Ray Valentine) is a homeless man who begs for money on the street. The Duke brothers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy) debate whether it's heredity or environment that makes the man and they manipulate the system so Murphy and Aykroyd reverse their positions. Winthorpe and Valentine manage to overcome the Duke brothers and get rich while sending the two crooked manipulators to the poor house.
"Wall Street" (1987).
This movie seemed to reflect the high times of investors in the late 1980s in which super rich investors like Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) control and manipulate the stock market by getting inside information and then acting before the rest of the investors. The movie pointed the finger of guilt at big investors who don't have any more knowledge of the market than anyone else, they just act illegally to profit from information that they should never legally have had in the first place.
"Boiler Room" (2000).
This movie tells the story of how those on the lower end of Wall Street sell huge dreams to unsuspecting individuals who have no real idea of how the market works and how easily they can lose their money. Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi) and Chris Varick (Vin Diesel) work for a firm that pumps and dumps stocks so the company can profit while individual investors lose money. This film demonstrates that when investors don't know what they are doing, they can easily get fleeced.
"Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room" (2005).
This film provided the details of Enron, which was the 7th largest company in the United States and became bankrupt in less than a year because of the company's ability to manipulate the market due to greed and phony promises. The film tells the inside story of Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow and how they fooled their employees and the public at an unprecedented level.