Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, Hal Holbrook, James Karen, Terence Stamp, Sean Young, James Spader, John C. McGinley, Josh Mostel, Lauren Tom, Saul Rubinek, Sylvia Miles
Written by: Oliver Stone, Stanley Weiser
Directed by: Oliver Stone
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 126
Date: 12/11/1987

Wall Street (1987)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Shocks and Bonds

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Oliver Stone, and dedicated to his father, who was a stockbroker, Wall Street plays out with his usual bombastic intensity. Some of the 1980s-era details may seem a bit dated, and the movie's attitude toward women is slightly despicable, but the overall story arc, echoing the "Faust" tale, is timeless. It can be on the predictable side, but movie as a whole is still effectively seductive.

Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) works for a brokerage firm, impatiently trying to make a living through cold-calls. Fed up, he talks his way into a meeting with high-roller Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekko takes a liking to Bud and shows him how to make some real money on Wall Street, even if the methods are a bit shady. Bud begins to enjoy his newfound wealth and power, as well as a high-class girlfriend (Daryl Hannah). He starts to set up a deal to save the small-scale airline business run by his good-hearted father (Martin Sheen), but discovers that Gordon is more interested in making money than in helping people. So Bud must decide whether to sacrifice everything he has worked for in the name of family, love and loyalty.

It's telling that Michael Douglas won the movie's only Oscar for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko, who is something of a devil/Mephistopheles character, and effortlessly steals the movie away from the more heroic characters. Eventually, right wins the day, but the movie is more memorable when Gekko, like the Grinch, is being bad. (The movie is still remembered for Gekko's infamous "greed" speech.) Additionally, the movie manages to capture the mood and methods of Wall Street without getting too complex, and the overall story is told clearly and well.

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