Film: Wall Street

The point is, ladies and gentlemen - that 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 (in an Oscar-winning performance) 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).

It received a sequel in 2010, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

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

"Tropes, for lack of a better word, are good. Tropes work."

  • Academy Award: Michael Douglas won the 1987 Oscar for Best Actor for his work on the film.
  • Alliterative Name: Gordon Gekko.
  • Artistic License Law: When Gekko asks Fox to follow Lawrence Wildman around, Fox complains that he could lose his license and/or go to jail. In reality, there's nothing illegal about following someone around and noting that he ate lunch in a public restaurant with other people, as this is all publicly observable information. It would only be illegal if Fox was menacing Wildman in some way, and Fox tries not to be noticed by Wildman or anyone with him. The first illegal act Fox commits is searching Roger's law firm's records (under the ruse of co-owning the cleaning company) and making copies of them for Gekko.
  • 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 unenployment, 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
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: While the movie goes to great length to depict the despicability of corporate raiding, it nevertheless motivated many aspiring young men with flexible morals to get into the exchange business.
  • 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.
  • Evil Mentor: Gordon Gekko to Bud Fox. In this case it's the student who pushes for the mentor's advice. As soon as Bud Fox makes himself useful to Gekko's financial schemes, Gekko takes him under his wing and gives him the life he always wanted while teaching him to be driven solely by greed and use illegal means if necessary to ensure his profits.
  • 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 actually more of a criticism of the cynical, quick-buck culture of the '80s business world, and 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.
  • Nave 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.
  • 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.
  • Perp Walk: The scene mentioned above.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Stewart Copeland.
  • Present Day Past: The film, released in late 1987, has an opening title saying the movie takes place in 1985. Yet within a minutes a character makes a reference to the Challenger disaster, which happened in early 1986.
    • This was the result of adding the "1985" title after most of the film had been completed, as a way of setting it before a number of insider-trading scandals that had unfolded over the time the film was made.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Darien Taylor. The role earned Daryl Hannah that year's Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress, thus making this the only film to ever win both an Oscar and a Razzie.
    • Oliver Stone even said he considered trading her with Sean Young, who plays Gekko's wife. Considering that Hannah later admitted her performance suffered because she disliked playing such a shallow character, and Young ended up stealing the costumes she wore after production wrapped because her part wasn't as big as she thought it would be, Stone probably should have.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
    Bud Fox: What I see is a jealous old machinist who can't stand the fact that his son has become more successful than he has!
    Carl Fox: What you see is a guy who never measured a man's success by the size of his WALLET!
  • Smug Snake: Subverted. Gordon Gekko is clearly in love with himself, but also remembers to Pet the Dog on occasion.
  • Status Cell Phone: Gordon has an extravagant, top-of-the-the-line, and brick-sized cell phone. This is used as a Technology Marches On gag in the sequel 'Money Never Sleeps' when he is released from prison and gets said phone, now obsolete, returned to him.
  • 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.
  • Victory Is Boring: After winning the takeover battle, Gordon complains about how difficult it has been to turn around Teldar even after he's fired most of the management. For that reason he initially rebuffs Bud's suggestion that he buy and turn around BlueStar.