Money makes the world go around – and it has certainly inspired the plot-lines for plenty of fantastic films over the years. Whether you’re a fan of iconic catch phrases or classic riches to rags – and back to riches – story-lines, the film industry has provided them all.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
This Martin Scorsese epic has been described by fans as one of the director’s best works. It stars Leonardo di Caprio as Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker who made vast sums of cash via some fairly underhand dealings. The black comedy follows Belfort through his meteoric rise to the levels of the uber rich and then down to the lows of fraud, corruption, pennilessness and pursuit by the FBI resulting in three years in a minimum security prison.
Wall Street (1987)
Oliver Stone’s money making classic stars Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, a legend on Wall Street who eventually takes Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox under his wing. Cue a series of very dirty dealings that threaten to harm significant human interests, all for the sake of generating cash. In the end Gekko and Fox end up pitched against one another and both have to answer to the law for crimes such as insider trading, losing almost everything.
Trading Places (1983)
This film has frequently been called a contemporary take on Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper with two men from very different sides of the tracks whose lives accidentally cross. A homeless street hustler trades place with a high end stockbroker as part of a bet – with hilarious results.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book of the same name, this film is all about the pressures of property sales. Four men who work in real estate are given an ultimatum one day – at the end of the week all but the two best salesmen will be fired. The film follows the way the men cope with the prospect of unemployment and penury with increasing desperation.
The Big Short (2015)
For anyone confused about how the 2007-2008 global financial crisis began, The Big Short makes is easy, simplifying the way the housing bubble brought everything down. The film is notable for its stellar cast, including Ryan Gosling and Christian Bale, as well as for the detail it employs to explain the complex financial scenarios and instruments that created recessionary circumstances.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
Competing con men Steve Martin and Michael Caine are looking to relieve an heiress of at least $50,000. Set in the lavish French Riviera the film follows the attempts of the sophisticated Brit and the rather more streetwise American to get their hands on the cash. In the end both fail but join forces to be more successful in future scams.
The Company Men (2011)
This film is all about the impact of downsizing during a recession on one family who had previously had bright prospects. Ben Affleck’s character Bobby Walker finds himself eventually losing his position and doing manual labour after his flashy desk job is withdrawn. The film has a happy ending though when Walker and many of his other sacked colleagues are hired to form a new business.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
It’s Tom Cruise’s character Maguire who utters the iconic phrase “show me the money” in this film, which is the tale of the rise and fall of a slick sports agent. When Maguire loses his job after a bout of honesty concerning issues in the industry, it’s left to him, working with American football player Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.) to get his business and professional life back on track.
The Money Pit (1986)
When Tom Hanks and Shelley Long’s characters are forced to leave their home they end up buying a million dollar distress sale mansion, which they scoop for just a couple of hundred thousand dollars. However, the house starts to fall apart as soon as they move in, draining all their cash and setting the couple on a road to increasing hostility. The film is a great example of how the pressure of property renovation can put strain on even the happiest couples – although it does all work out in the end.
Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)
This film is all about debt and how a very average middle class couple end up resorting to robbery after finding themselves up to their necks in it. Jim Carrey plays Dick, who loses his job when his employer goes under, taking the futures of all the employees with it. Although Dick is eventually able to make the situation right, the film ends with him announcing he’s taken a new role – with a company called Enron…
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