“Greed for lack of a better word, is good” says the character of Gordan Gekko played by the charismatic Michael Douglas in the 1987 Hollywood cult classic Wall Street directed by the great Oliver Stone. This now famous dialogue clearly reflects what the movie is about and that is all about greed being good and that money never sleeps at Wall Street.
The basic plot of the movie is quite simple although the technical knowledge pertaining to the working of Wall Street is highly sophisticated and well researched. The story basically begins with a young and ambitious stockbroker Bud Fox(Charlie Sheen) working at Jackson Steinem and Co and desperate to scale great heights in the world of stocks. So to make it big in this world he has his eyes on Gordon Gekko(Michael Douglas) a big ruthless and manipulative Wall Street player and desperately wants to join him at any cost. So after several unsuccessful attempts to meet Geeko finally one day Charlie eventually gets permission to meet the man he wants to become. It is during this first meeting with Geeko which also happens to be his birthday Bud tries to pitch a few stocks to him which does not impress him. This leads to a desperate Bud providing some inside information about Bluestar an airline company where his father Carl(Martin Sheen) works and, it is Carl who gives this information to his son during a casual father and son conversation they have at a pub. It is from this point on slowly but surely that the manipulative Geeko takes the naïve Bud under his wings and decides to guide and manipulate and there by fulfill not only his greed but also Charlie’s ambition of reaching the top.
After the success of completing an assignment given by Gekko of spying and giving some inside information about his business rival Sir Lawrence Wildman(Terence Trump) Bud is propelled into a whole new world with Gekko as his mentor who provides him with perks including a beautiful girl friend Darrien(Daryl Hannah). With Bud being on a personal and professional high he at this point believes that there is nothing wrong that he could do. Unfortunately for Bud things start to go completely wrong from this point on. The rest of movie deals with whether or not Bud decides to go with Gekko or decides to bring down Gekko and his whole world which is based on greed being so good.
The movie first and foremost bears a trademark of an Oliver Stone movie of being a very well researched movie. The story and the screenplay which is full of intrigue and has been written by Oliver Stone and Stanley Weiser quite beautifully and encapsulates this world where “Greed” seems to be the name of the game in a very realistic yet entertaining format. The dialogues are well written and crisp with attention to details about the world the movie has been set in. Of particular significance is the “Greed is good” dialogue which has become an all time classic dialogues ever to be delivered in world cinema. Also of note is the editing done by Claire Simpson which is sharp and ensures that the flow of the story is smooth and does not unnecessarily drag on an essential ingredient especially for this movie which belongs to the genre of a business drama. The direction of Oliver Stone is brilliant and manages to bring out a whole new world of stock trading in a very realistic manner which has truly become an Oliver Stone trademark.
As for the performances of the movie which is truly outstanding right from Charlie Sheen to the irresistible Michael Douglas. To begin with Charlie Sheen as Bud Fox has put in an impressive performance as a greenhorn yet ambitious young broker who wants to make it big in his profession. He certainly brings a kind of stiffness in the role which required that quality as he was playing younger man in awe of his mentor. In fact Oliver Stone has on record stated it was Sheen’s ability to bring in that stiff quality that fetched him that role. Yet another impressive performance was from Martin Sheen who plays Carl the father of Bud Fox. What made his performance real was the simple fact that in reality Martin is Charlie’s biological father and, hence all the scenes between the two had a sense of reality in them and, one must admit was brilliantly used by Oliver Stone. Daryl Hannah as Darien and Bud’s love interest is competent although she does not have a big role. While Terrance Stamp as Sir Lawrence Wildman is great and adds dignity to a small but significant role. Last but the least is the performance of the movie which belongs to Michael Douglas as the ruthlessly manipulative Gordon Gekko. He truly brings out the need for greed of the character quite beautifully. So be it in his first scene with Charlie where he tries to intimidate him to the scene in the limousine where he manages to seduce Charlie into his world or the great “Greed is good” speech Douglas certainly is brilliant and, most deservingly won the best actor at 1987 Academy Awards.
Thus with a great story, sharp editing, fluid screenplay and some great performances by the cast Wall Street has certainly become an Hollywood classic that must be watched. Above all this movie shows us the inside view of stock market and informs us about a white collar crime present in the world of stock market technically known as “Insider trading”. Although more importantly this movie poses an important moralistic question to the viewer and that is “How much money is really enough to be happy in life?”
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