Thank you Kandace Heller for yet another fantastic article! Movies about stockbrokers and Wall Street didn’t really gain traction until the 1980s. There were a few notable stockbroker-related movies in the 90s and early 2000s, but since the financial collapse in 2008, they have become more popular than ever. So as you contemplate the current state of the stock market and economy, check out this list of five of the most crowd-pleasing Wall Street-related movies of all time, sorted from old to new. From comedies to dramas, there is something for everyone.
Trading Places (1983)
In this comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy, two wealthy brothers have one of the employees of their commodities brokerage house (Aykroyd) switch places with a street hustler (Murphy) to wager whether environment or genetics plays the biggest role in success. Hilarity ensues in this classic comedy about mistaken identity.
Wall Street (1987)
On the more serious side of the spectrum, Wall Street is an action packed crime drama. Perhaps the most popular and critically acclaimed movie about stockbrokers, Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is a story about a man who is hell-bent on getting to the top in the money and markets business by any means necessary. Michael Douglas won an Oscar for his role as the ambitious and greedy Gordon Gecko, and this memorable character spawned a sequel called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps in 2010.
Rogue Trader (1999)
Ewan McGregor starred in this movie based on a true story about a man (Nick Leeson) who bankrupted one of the most well-known banks in Britain. The story is based on on Leeson’s autobiography and shows how his wreckless ambition led to a financial disaster. This is a film about risking it all for money and fame.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Although greed and immorality are typically the main themes of stockbroker movies, one film that breaks this mold is The Pursuit of Happiness. Will Smith stars along side his actual son, Jaden, in this inspirational movie about a man who loses everything but eventually becomes a successful stockbroker through hard work and never refusing to give up. Like Rogue Trader, this movie is also based on a true story. This movie will tug your heartstrings and may give you the courage to try something new in your life.
Margin Call (2011)
With an Oscar-nominated screenplay and a star-studded cast, this film gives you an inside look at the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis as it follows the CEO and brokers at an investment bank that’s about to meet its demise. As the bank’s senior management realizes they are in serious trouble, what ensues is a series of unethical acts to protect individual interests and keep the bank afloat.
From this list, you can see that the common themes in this genre are usually greed and immorality, yet there is that occasional comedy or inspirational story that makes us realize that not all stockbrokers are bad. These glamorous Hollywood films are what give stockbrokers their reputation. They are depicted as immoral and extremely wealthy when in reality the average stockbroker really only makes about $70,000 per year. These movies are great for people who love drama, action and crime movies, but there are also wall-street themed movies for those who like a more tame story of courage or inspiration.