Nov 06

The Business Of Film

Do You See + FT6 comments • 780 views

The American.com (one assumes from the language of its other articles a pretty right-leaning US website) knocks up a list of its ten best business based films. The criteria it uses is simple
1) A great movie
2) A relatively realistic picture of business
3) An attitude not openly hostile to capitalism as we know and love it.

Now point 1) would pretty much rule our 2) in my book but would not necessarily rule out 3). Well when you look at their list it is clearly that they have wrestled long and hard with 3) and still found no way around it. Its hard to find flag waving, capitalist friendly films ABOUT business. At least not recently. The list they actually come up with have at least fifty percent which are critical in some way or other to big business. So Wall Street doesn’t make it, Boiler Room left on the side, the criminally under-rated* Shattered Glass is also sidelined (though it is more about journalism than business). But even when these are passed over they cannot complete their list without Glengarry Glen Ross making the cut: and one cannot think of a film which is more openly hostile to capitalism, know or love it.

Which brings us to a film which will almost certainly make the list in a few months time: Will Smith in the Pursuit Of Happyness (and sic). This 1980’s set rags to riches tale has a old looking Smith becoming a stockbroker. Watch the trailer here: and ask yourself as the plot unfolds that you are expecting something bad to happen to Smith as he becomes an evil stockbroker. Yet it doesn’t seem to happen int he trailer (indeed it is very much a trailer which once you’ve seen it, you don’t need to see the film). Still I’m sure the American would be happy with its thesis. And maybe you too can propose a better film about business than Lost In Translation!

*Lookee here, a list of criminally overlooked films which doe snot include Shattered Glass. And does include Munich, Before Sunrise, Match Point and Gangs Of New York. LIKE NONE OF THOSE FILMS GOT COLUMN INCHES. Bah. (And TWO David Gordon-Green films? You made yr point).


  1. 1
    tracerhand on 28 Nov 2006 #

    No “The Secret of My Success,” starring Michael J. Fox and foxy Supergirl-to-be Helen Slater? For shame!

  2. 2
    tracerhand on 28 Nov 2006 #

    I wonder how many of these films follow the basic premise, “By breaking the rules… s/he broke into the bigtime!”

  3. 3
    Pete Baran on 28 Nov 2006 #

    Secret Of My Success is actually a really good pick but one worries that it may not pass the “Relatively realistic picture of business” test. Ditto the Hudsucker Proxy.

    Basically the “by breaking the rules…s/he broke into the bigtime” probably rules out the “realtively realistic portrayal of business”. Note no The Insider, Rogue Trader or Thank You For Smoking.

  4. 4
    Mark M on 28 Nov 2006 #

    That overlooked film list is shocking. It reminds me of Word magazine’s underrated albums poll, which somehow managed to included MBV’s Loveless and Tom Waits’s Raindogs. Now, I love Raindogs, but you’d have to be demented to say that it was under-lavished with critical praise – I guess sometimes people approach these things with “BUT THERE IS NO POSSIBLE AMOUNT OF PRAISE SUFFICIENT FOR…” Either that or they don’t read magazines or newspapers or the internet and are basing underrated/overlooked on whether their mother has heard of it.
    That’s a terrible list of business films. What about Scarface? Or New Jack City – that’s got endless discussion of marketing strategies? They should have gone with Wall Street because whatever Stone’s intentions or presumed intentions, everyone who saw that film knew that its hero is Gordon Gekko.

  5. 5
    Peter Miller on 29 Nov 2006 #

    I watched Trading Places last night after reading this. I don’t think I would have bothered otherwise. So thanks for the tip-off. I didn’t really understand all the buying and selling at the end. I think I must have nodded off for a second.

  6. 6
    My name is Kenny on 29 Nov 2006 #

    I’m really shocked that they didn’t include The Aviator, one of the most whole-hearted defenses of free-market capitalism ever made.

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page