Wall Street

Wall Street Study Guide

Wall Street is a 1987 film, directed and co-written by Oliver Stone. At the time of its release, New York finance was riding high and many were talking about the rise of the "yuppie" generation—young professionals who were profiting off the stock market, and greedy for more. The movie tells the story of one young stockbroker who becomes involved in business deals with an older, wealthy and unscrupulous corporate raider named Gordon Gekko. Stone made the movie as a tribute to his father, Lou Stone, who was a stockbroker during the Great Depression.

Gordon Gekko is said to be a composite of several real people, including Ivan Boesky, originator of the famous "Greed is good" line, as well as agent Michael Ovitz, art collector Asher Edelman and Stone's personal friend, Owen Morrissey, who was involved in a twenty million dollar insider trading scandal in 1985. The character of Sir Lawrence Wildnan was modeled on Sir James Goldsmith, a British financier known for raiding the accounts of his investors.

The film is emblematic of 80s finance culture, and is viewed by many as a definitive portrait of 1980s excess. Ironically enough, it has also proved an efficient recruitment tool, inspiring people to work on Wall Street. Stone and his leading actors have all publicly told stories of fans who shared that they became stockbrokers because of the film.

Michael Douglas won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko, thanking Oliver Stone in his acceptance speech for casting him in a role that nobody had believed he could play. Not all of the performances in the film were quite so acclaimed, with Daryl Hannah earning a Razzie Award for the Worst Performance by a Supporting Actress, making Wall Street the only film in history to win both an Oscar and a Razzie.