“Greed is Good.”
No other cinematic phrase described the 1980’s better. And no other movie captures the financial corruption of the 80’s better than Oliver Stone’s Wall Street.
The film celebrates its 20th Anniversary with a 2-disc re-release that includes never-before-seen special features. And while Wall Street is very dated (my wife and I cracked up at the fashion and decorating styles), it still works as a morality tale in the era of big business.
Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a small-time stockbroker, making cold-calls to businessmen who won’t give him the time of day. His father, Carl (Martin Sheen), is a hard-working airline mechanic for a fledgling airline and is worried about the path his son is headed down when big-time investment broker Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) takes Bud under his wing. At first, Bud loves the money, the women, and the power that Gekko gives him. But when Bud involves his father in one of his investment schemes, he sees Gekko for the greedy slimeball he really is, and starts to see the error of his previous ways.
As you probably know by now, Douglas propels Wall Street. His Academy Award winning performance of Gordon Gekko is the biggest reason to watch or re-watch Wall Street today. And there are even rumors that Douglas may reprise Gordon Gekko in a sequel that places him in modern-day New York. Very interesting…
That said, Wall Street is a relic. While it may have been hard-hitting in 1987, today it’s really just a window that gives us a look at the way things used to be. Greed, hair-grease, and shoulder pads. Wall Street is still entertaining, but a lot of times it’s for the wrong reasons. And today, when the skepticism of the general public is at an all-time high, I have a feeling many people will look back at Wall Street and say, “Yeah… no s–t.”
For a twenty year-old movie, Wall Street holds up well. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is sharp and clear, with some leftover grain here and there. But overall, it’s a solid transfer. No major complaints.
Since Wall Street is all dialog, I didn’t even notice that the default audio setting is a 4.0 Dolby Digital track until I looked at the back of the box when the movie was over. When I started to fool around with the settings, I noticed that the 5.1 DD track obviously separates the sound a little better, but since there is very little going on, sound-wise, it was hard to tell the difference. Both soundtracks are clear and free of static.
The Commentary with Director Oliver Stone is informative when Stone is not simply telling us what is happening on screen. He discusses his father, who was a stockbroker, and how he was the inspiration for the film, as well as jumping back into directing after winning an Oscar for Platoon. Given that Stone recorded the commentary for the re-release of the film, he has an excellent memory, explaining techniques behind different shots as well as how critics responded to the film’s somewhat abrupt ending.
Introduction by Oliver Stone – a minute long introduction by the director.
An hour long documentary, entitled Greed is Good, recounts the impact that Wall Street had on audiences in the 80’s with modern-day interviews with the cast and crew. Real-life stockbrokers also discuss the accuracy of the film. The most interesting topic discussed is how women stockbrokers break into, and have success in, an industry largely dominated by men.
Deleted Scenes with optional Commentary by Oliver Stone contain about 22 minutes of discarded scenes. Most of them are extensions of existing scenes, while some cut out minor subplots of the movie all together. I felt that Wall Street moved along at a brisk pace, so keeping any of these scenes in would have definitely slowed the film down, but it would have been nice to see these scenes polished and added to the film for the re-release. Stone speaks openly about these deleted scenes in the optional commentary track, saying some were a complete waste of money, while wishing others remained in the film.
While the 45-minute long Money Never Sleeps: The Making of Wall Street featurette touches more upon the making of the film than the impact it had upon it’s release, a lot of the stuff covered here is simply rehashed material from the Commentary track and Greed is Good documentary. Stone again discusses the inspiration behind Wall Street, his stockbroker father, and there are some more present-day interviews with the cast and crew.
I understand Wall Street has a lot of fans. I’ve seen Boiler Room, where the characters recite the film word for word, and I don’t doubt that many fans of the movie do the same thing in real life. So I’m betting that a lot of people are looking forward to this 2-disc re-release to coincide with Wall Street’s 20th Anniversary. I’m just not one of them. While Wall Street is still an entertaining take on financial corruption and the “me first” attitude of the 1980’s, the film is severely dated. The only thing that holds up is Douglas’ performance. And while a 2-disc re-release might give the impression that the film is accompanied by a slew of extras, they are surprisingly limited and redundant, and could have easily fit on one disc. Adding in the deleted scenes and calling this a “20th Anniversary Director’s Cut” would have perhaps spiced things up a bit, but then you would have lost a “special feature”. Couple that with an average A/V transfer of a dated film, and you have the makings for a let-down. Sell, sell, sell.