Wall Street, written by Stanley Weiser and Oliver Stone, directed by the latter
Wall Street is one of the classics that will stand the proof of time, with formidable performances, Michael Douglas has won the well-deserved Academy Award and Golden Globe for his fantastic performance in the role of Gordon Gekko, a character that has escaped this film and has entered the Hall of Fame- if it is not better to say Hall of Infame.
Charlie Sheen – in a period during which he could act with remarkable talent and not hit the news with marital conflicts, porn star shenanigans…but wait, this is not that bad, some get involved in all that and reach all the way to the…White House- plays the ambitious, intrepid, selfish for a long while, talented, greedy, vibrant, self-absorbed Bud Fox.
Bud Fox is a skilled stockbroker, good communicator, possessing excellent social skills that empower him to make connections that propel him to the top, dexterous in handling targets, a splendid sales representative who wants to be rich and not like his father, Carl Fox, played by the real father of the actor, Martin Sheen.
The film asks some very serious, deep, relevant questions in the age of mass movements like Occupy Wall Street, the popular condemnation of CEOs who have helped cause financial crisis some of them infamous for their despicable, outrageous manner:
“I want to tear his heart out and eat it”- Dick Fuld of the now defunct Lehman Brothers
Wall Street would invite audiences to meditate on the question “To Be or To Have”, which in the case of people like Bud – for the first part at least – Gordon Gecko and Darien Taylor is answered with “have a lot of money”.
In contrast with the voracious personages of the feature, Carl Fox represents the epitome of the positive character, a man dedicated to helping others, a leader of the union of workers in the Blue Star airline who wants to defeat predators and save the company from the likes of Gekko.
Gordon Gekko is a rich corporate raider, modelled on real life characters – for instance Albert Dunlap, nicknamed Chainsaw Al – who takes over companies that are mostly in some trouble, turns them around – by cutting staff mainly and other expenses – and then sells them for a profit, without any emotion or consideration for the lives of the people involved.
Wall Street is so quintessential because the different sides of the argument could be debated by viewers, for if Gekko has all the traits of a villain and he breaks the law, making companies profitable is what capitalism is about and there is no better system, even if the director of the motion picture has an abominable habit of getting friendly with terrible tyrants like the late Castro, Chavez and other monsters…for the last French elections, he had sent a letter of support for yet another extremist, Jean-Luc Melenchon.
Bud Fox wants to work for the financial shark, tries and finally impresses the tycoon who may just want to use the young, rapacious stockbroker, even placing an outstanding beauty, Darien Taylor aka Daryl Hannah – who has been nominated for a Razzie award for her role -, in his arms.
The young protagonist becomes affluent very rich – albeit positive psychology emphasizes that being time affluent is much more important than being wealthy in material ways – buys an extremely lavishing apartment that Darien decorates and then co habits.
The hero makes a daring proposition, that Gordon Gekko acquires Blue Star, a company that he knows well from his father that has tremendous potential, whose work force can be convinced to adapt to a sensible plan that would ensure future benefits for both employees and new owner, with the help of Fox Senior.
Alas, if the ruthless operator accepts the prospect, it is not because he would entirely implement the plan, but because he would act without any consideration for anything except a profit on the stock market, the workforce can go to hell for all he cares, pushing Bud Fox to find alternative solutions to the looming catastrophe, predicted by his wise parent.
The inexperienced hero, disappointed and betrayed, offers a plan of revenge to a competitor of Gekko, Sir Larry Wildman aka the formidable Terence Stamp, who would not like anything better than win over the man he loathes so much, especially when the idea of getting control of Blue Star, whose shares are being transacted on the stock exchange is so good in itself.
"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” This is part of the Gordon Gekko speech and it reminds one of another character, just as rapacious, Blake from the fantastic Glengarry Glen Ross:
Blake: A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Attention - Do I have you attention? Interest - Are you interested? I know you are, because it's fuck or walk. You close or you hit the bricks. Decision - Have you made your decision for Christ? And Action.
Blake: F*$k you-- that's my name! You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight, I drove an $80,000 BMW. That's my name.