Wall Street

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.
Gordon Gekko

Wall Street is a 1987 movie directed by Oliver Stone and starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.

A stockbroker named Bud Fox (Sheen) wants to become top of the world. He becomes involved with his idol, Gordon Gekko (Douglas), a ruthless Wall Street player who has a conflict with Bud's father, Carl (Martin Sheen).

A sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (also directed by Stone) starring Douglas and Shia LaBeouf was released on September 24, 2010.

Not to be confused with the actual Wall Street. ...there is no such article on that here yet.

Tropes used in Wall Street include:
  • Alliterative Name: Gordon Gekko.
  • Anachronism Stew: A trader mentions the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster which happened in 1986, however the film takes place in 1985.
  • Better Than Sex: Gordon Gekko relates that when he made an $800,000 profit on his first business real-estate purchase, he thought making all that money was "better than sex," but years later, he only sees it as a day's pay.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bud saves the airline, but is facing a jail term. Likewise, the airline workers have staved off unemployment, but are facing wage cutbacks.
    • Subverted. The sequel reveals that Bud did serve prison time but after he served, he was released and then took over the airline. Through his leadership, the company became one of the wealthiest airlines in America. He then sold it and now he spends his days as a retired millionaire.
  • Broken Pedestal: Bud's attitude to Gekko after he intentionally drives his father's cherished company into bankruptcy.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Gordon.
  • Cynical Mentor: Gekko to Bud.
  • Deal with the Devil: Bud.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Due to taking place a couple years before it was filmed, some of the supposed crimes that Gekko committed during the movie were not illegal when the movie takes place, but were illegal when the movie was filmed.
    • A character makes reference to the 1986 Challenger disaster, despite the movie being set in '85.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: If you were to go by the earlier scenes in the movie, you would think that none of Bud's coworkers have any semblance of morality. However, towards the end of the movie, when they all find out about Bud's involvement in fraud, almost everyone in the office is giving him a cold stare.
  • Greed
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: The confrontation between both Sheens. Martin even said "the size of your WALLET!" was inspired by another ham, George C. Scott, in The Hustler.
  • Hidden Wire
  • Ironic Echo: Early in the movie, Gordon advises against getting emotional about stock. Later in the movie, Bud repeats this back to Gordon.
  • Lonely at the Top
  • The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: This is an anti-corporate, anti-capitalist movie produced by a major movie studio using corporate finance with the ultimate aim of making a profit.
    • Actually, Word of God states that the film is neither pro- nor anti- Wall Street. It was made to paint a picture of that world (the director's father was a stock broker himself), and leave viewers to form their own opinions. Given the many, many different views of the film, he's succeeded. There is probably a very high correlation between one's opinion of the film and one's economic views.
  • Naive Newcomer: At first, Gordon Gekko dismisses Bud Fox as naive about the stock exchange.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: No one with the last name Gekko is likely to be an upstanding guy.
  • New Era Speech: Three words: "Greed is good." Also the movie's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Terrence Stamp as the British financial mogul. Although he technically appears in two scenes.
  • The Oner: A great piece of acting by Sheen, as Bud is arrested for the insider trading he did during his time with Gekko, and slowly breaks down as he's handcuffed and led out of the office.
  • Pop Star Composer: Stewart Copeland.
  • Shallow Love Interest: Darien Taylor. The role earned Daryl Hannah that year's Golden Raspberry Award.
    • Oliver Stone even said he considered trading her with Sean Young, who plays Gekko's wife.
  • Smug Snake: Gordon Gekko is clearly in love with himself, but also remembers to Pet the Dog.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Gordon is inspired by several corporate raiders during the 1980s, and in fact the famous speech was based on one given by Ivan Boesky who like Gordon, got arrested for his financial activities.
  • Villain Protagonist: Gordon.
    • Maybe not an outright protagonist, but certainly what most people remember about the movie.
      • Nor even, perhaps, an outright villain.
  • You Fail Economics Forever: Apparently, Gordon's entire motivation stems from a childhood experience where he watches his mother cut up a pie into slices and he is told he has to get a hold of as much of the pie as he could. This not only falls under the "wealth is zero-sum" fallacy, but it conflicts with the fact that Gekko is a corporate raider and his entire business model is based on the premise that more efficient use of resources increases wealth. The infamous "Greed is Good" speech is about how more efficient use of resources increases wealth.

Tropes included in the sequel:

  • Anti-Hero: Gordon morphs into this the sequel.
  • As Himself: The movie features not only famous person lookalikes, but also several people playing themselves, including Warren Buffet.
  • Batman Gambit: Gorgon Gekko's plans.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the characters wear suits in morally ambiguous shades of grey. The villain, Bretton James, wears a demonic red suit.
  • Dead Guy, Junior: Happy Birthday, Louie!
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gordon spent over 11 years in prison for a "victimless" crime. That's twice as long as what most rapists get!
    • This is questionable, given the far-reaching consequences of white collar crime. Yes, its punished as a light offense, but in the real world the implications can be staggering.
  • Driven to Suicide: Louis Zabel (Jake's mentor), 20 minutes into the movie.
  • Enemy Mine: Gordon Gekko and Jake Moore team up against Bretton James, a thoroughly despicable stock gambler who has wronged them both.
  • Expy: Churchill Schwartz is a very, very obvious Expy of Goldman Sachs, right down to the article Jake Moore writes about them, the excerpt of which we see is literally taken word-for-word from Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone now-classic article about Goldman Sachs with only the names changed. Bretton James is also pretty obviously heavily influenced by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, although going so far as to call him an Expy is probably stretching it.
  • For the Evulz: For some viewers, half of Gordon Gekko's motivation. Another interpretation is that he simply holds 'the game' up as a moral imperative. See True Neutral above.

Gordon Gekko:It's not about the money - It's about the game.