NEW YORK (Reuters) - In the annals of Hollywood, Wall Street has not been treated very kindly.
From “Wall Street” to “Boiler Room”, “Trading Places” to “American Psycho”, the halls of finance are usually portrayed as places of shiny excesses and dark hearts.
Now buzz is building over a new contender, which could become one of the defining films of Wall Street. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is slated to come out this November, and is sure to have brokers scrambling for red-carpet invites.
But what do the nation’s foremost finance gurus think of the movies that put their industry on the big screen? We asked a few for their favorites.
Name: Jim Cramer Title: Host, Mad Money, CNBC Favorite movie: “Margin Call”
It is far and away my favorite, and I have watched it multiple times. It is the most realistic movie about Wall Street I have ever seen. When I first watched it I was spellbound, because I could not believe how they got it so right.
From Kevin Spacey as the manager who is fighting between the notions of protecting ownership or protecting clients, to Stanley Tucci as the guy who was too honest and had to be farmed out, to Jeremy Irons as the clueless guy at the top who looks good: I’ve been in the industry 33 years, and we all know who these people are.
I tell people who are going into the business, ‘This is what happens on Wall Street. If you can handle what happens in “Margin Call”, then you’re ready.’
There is a scene in the boardroom where Zachary Quinto says that he got his graduate degree in jet propulsion from MIT. That is exactly the way it is on Wall Street. There is always a guy in the room with a degree like that. They even got that detail right.
Name: Alexandra Lebenthal Title: CEO, Lebenthal & Co. Favorite movie: “Working Girl”
Every time I come across it on TV, I have to watch it all over again. It is more of a comedic take on the industry - not totally accurate, but very entertaining.
By this point, it has an old-school 1980s feel, everything from how mergers and acquisitions were at the time right down to how the women dressed. Melanie Griffith is a secretary from Staten Island who always wants more, and Sigourney Weaver is the uptight investment banker who steals her idea for a merger. There are just so many classic lines.
Least-favorite movie: “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps”
It was a big mishmash that just didn’t get it right. It was really two different subject matters: If they wanted to make it about the financial crisis, and banks making bad bets, they should have told that story. If they wanted to make it about high-frequency trading, they should have stuck with that.
But instead they just threw everything together. It was very confusing - even for me, as someone who knows the industry.
Name: Tobias Levkovich Title: Chief U.S. equity strategist, Citigroup Favorite movie: “Other People’s Money”
This movie came out in the days of corporate raiders and takeovers, and Danny DeVito plays Larry the Liquidator. He runs computer models to find undervalued targets and focuses on a sleepy little company in New Hampshire.
It is kind of an old rust-belt business making cable and wire, and he is chasing it down to squeeze some value out of it. It is such a delicious role for him, because he so obviously enjoys what he does for a living.
Least-favorite movie: “Boiler Room”
It is about a brokerage out on Long Island that is ripping people off, and that isn’t the Wall Street that I know.
Ninety-five percent of the people I have worked with, over 26 years in the business, are above-board, honest, and trying to make their clients money. That movie propagates stereotypes that are just wrong.
Name: David Rosenberg Title: Chief economist and strategist, Gluskin Sheff Favorite movie: “Wall Street”
The whole story of the broker who rises to the top and then comes crashing down, is very much like the contours of the stock market itself. That theme really resonates for me.
Money can be extremely emotional, but the financial industry is basically an industry of trust, and what comes out of that movie is that honesty is the best policy. If you interviewed Charlie Sheen’s character Bud at the end, that is what he would tell you.
I have always loved the scene when Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah are having dinner together in the condo, and he looks at his plate and says something like, ‘It’s so perfect, you almost don’t want to eat it.’
To me that personifies the whole movie: That what you see is not always what you get, and that the appearance of wealth can sometimes be an illusion.
(The author is a Reuters contributor. The opinions expressed are his/her own.)
Editing by Lauren Young and Andrew Hay