It’s been 20 years since the world first encountered a Wall Street mogul who is now considered the most rapacious capitalist the world has ever known. In fact, his name still strikes fear in the hearts of many CEO’s despite the fact he’s a fictional character. We’re talking about Gordon Gekko the Michael Douglas character from Wall Street.
Released shortly after the Crash of ’87, Oliver Stone’s film was a modern day morality tale with dialogue that’s been memorized by investors and film buffs alike.
Who can forget this classic, “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word... ...is good. Greed is right. Greed works!
Inspired by Carl Icahn, Ivan Boesky and other real-life raiders, Gordon Gekko became the symbol of the “go-go 80’s” corporate lifestyle. Yet two decades later his character still resonates.
Three-time Academy Award winner Oliver Stone joins the panel to talk about his famous film. Here are excerpts from what was said.
What’s your view on money in America today?
“It seems to me that it’s gotten much bigger. The Gordon Gekko’s of the world are fewer and farther between.” says Stone. “Corporations and investors are much bigger entities.. it seems like the numbers are enormous and a guy like Gekko would probably be squeezed out.”
Is greed growing in America?
“(Greed) has reached proportions where money is worshipped.” Stone replies. "There are more TV shows about it and more magazines – and I think we are worshipping the wrong values and teaching the wrong values to our children.”
What was it about Carl Icahn that inspired you to create Gordon Gekko?
“All of a sudden in the 80’s they became players,” Stone says. “They were able to use leverage to buy into companies. Ivan Boesky was one of our characters (we called him Myers Ashcroft.) It was a series of guys… and a culture. It was a new kind of breed that was getting the attention of the press.”
Why is there so much interest in the film Wall Street today
“The original 1987 movie was a morality tale. It was about Charlie Sheen, a broker who was torn between two fathers so to speak. … (But) as is so often the case in movies the bad guy wins the audience’s favor and I think Michael gave a very stunning performance and (20 years later) it gets the attention.”
Would you ever make a similar film?
“I tried to get involved a few years ago (in a film about Enron) and got completely confused. I didn’t understand what Enron was doing and couldn’t translate what they did – into film terms,” says Stone.
He adds, “Wall Street was made partly on the inspiration of my father. He was a stock broker who went to work on The Street in 1937.. he died on The Street in 1985 when the stock market was at 1,500. It was a different Wall Street. He would be shocked if he came back today and saw this."
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Trader disclosure: On Sept. 25, 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders: Najarian Owns (AAPL), (VCLK); Finerman’s Firm Owns S&P 500 Puts, Russell 2000 Puts; Finerman’s Firm and Finerman Own (HD); Finerman Owns (NMX), (NYX), (TGT), (VCLK), (WMT)