Wall Street (1987 film)

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Wall Street is a 1987 film about a young stockbroker desperate to succeed who becomes involved with his hero, a wealthy, unscrupulous corporate raider.

Directed by Oliver Stone. Written by Stanley Weiser and Oliver Stone.
Every dream has a price.

Gordon Gekko

  • Lunch? Aw, you gotta be kidding. Lunch is for wimps.
  • The most valuable commodity I know of . . . is information.
  • The public's out there throwing darts at a board, sport. I don't throw darts at a board – I bet on sure things.
  • What's worth doing is worth doing for money.
  • [Pointing to a homeless man and a businessman standing on a street corner] You gonna tell me the difference between that guy and this guy is luck?
  • When I get a hold of the son of a bitch who leaked this, I'm gonna tear his eyeballs out and I'm gonna suck his fucking skull.
  • Ever wonder why fund managers can't beat the S&P 500? 'Cause they're sheep, and sheep get slaughtered. I been in the business since '69. Most of these Harvard MBA types, they don't add up to dog shit. Gimme guys who are poor, smart and hungry. And no feelings. You win a few, you lose a few, but you keep on fighting . . . and if you need a friend, get a dog.
  • Wake up, will ya, pal? If you're not inside, you're outside, okay? And I'm not talking a $400,000 a year working Wall Street stiff flying first class and being comfortable, I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player, or nothing. Now, you had what it took to get into my office; the real question is whether you got what it takes to stay.

Bud Fox

  • [As the market opens] We're off and running!
  • You know what's my dream? To someday be on the other end of that phone.
  • [After Gekko buys stock from him] WOO! I JUST BAGGED THE ELEPHANT, BABY!!
  • There's no nobility in poverty.
  • [Walks in to SEC agents waiting in his office] I guess you're not here to open an IRA...

Lou Mannheim

  • Kid, you're on a roll. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it never does.
  • The problem with money, Bud—it makes you do things you don't want to do.


Lynch: [After Bud gets promoted] The minute I laid eyes on you, I knew you had what it took.
Lynch: [When Bud gets arrested] The minute I laid eyes on you, I knew you were no good.
Darien: You know, sometimes I miss you, Gordon. You're really twisted.
Marv: We're all just one trade away from humility, Bud.
Marv: [Sees Bud's new corner office] Very nice. So what is it, "Mr. Cocksucker" now?


Gekko: Money never sleeps, pal. I just made $800,000 in Hong Kong gold. It's been wired to you – play with it. You done good, but you gotta keep doing good. I showed you how the game works, now school's out.
Bud: Mr. Gekko, I'm there for you 110%.
Gekko: No, no, no, no, you don't understand. I want to be surprised. Astonish me, pal, new info, don't care where or how you get it, just get it. My wife tells me you made a move on Darien. Here's some inside info for ya. That Euroflash GQ type she's going with? He's got big bucks, but he's putting her feet to sleep. Exit visas are imminent. I don't want you to lose your place in line. [gazing at the surf] Oh, jeez, I wish you could see this … the lights coming up. I've never seen a painting that captures the beauty of the ocean in a moment like this. I'm going to make you rich, Bud Fox, rich enough you can afford a girl like Darien. This is your wake up call, pal. Go to work.

Bud: Lou, I got a sure thing. Anacott Steel.
Mannheim: No such thing except death and taxes. No fundamentals, not a good company anymore. What's going on, Bud? You know something? Remember there are no shortcuts, son. Quick buck artists come and go with every bull market, but the steady players make it through the bear market. You're a part of something here, Bud. The money you make for people creates science and research jobs. Don't sell that out.
Bud: You're right, Lou, you're right. But you gotta make it to the big time first, then you can be a pillar and do good things.
Mannheim: You can't get a little bit pregnant, son.
Bud: Lou, trust me, it's a winner. Buy it.

Gekko: The rarest pistol in the world, Larry. A .45 Luger. Only six of them were ever manufactured.
Wildman: Congratulations. Rarer still is your interest in Anacott Steel.
Gekko: My interest is the same as yours, Larry. Money. I thought it'd be a good investment for my kid.
Wildman: No. This time, I'm in for the long term; it's not a liquidation. I'm going to turn it around. You're getting a free ride on my tail, mate. With the dollars you're costing me to buy back the stock, I could modernize the plant. I'm not the only one who pays here, Gordon. We're talking about lives and jobs, three and four generations of steelworkers.
Gekko: Correct me if I'm wrong, but when you acquired CNX Electronics you laid off, what, 6000 workers? Jemson Fruit, 4000? That airline you bought …
Wildman: I could break you, mate, in two pieces over my knees. You know it, I know it. I could buy you six times over. I could dump the stock just to burn your arse. But I happen to want the company, and I want your block of shares.

Gekko: Well, I appreciate the opportunity you're giving me Mr. Cromwell as the single largest shareholder in Teldar Paper, to speak. Well, ladies and gentlemen we're not here to indulge in fantasy but in political and economic reality. America, America has become a second-rate power. Its trade deficit and its fiscal deficit are at nightmare proportions. Now, in the days of the free market, when our country was a top industrial power, there was accountability to the stockholder. The Carnegies, the Mellons, the men that built this great industrial empire, made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, management has no stake in the company! All together, these men sitting up here own less than three percent of the company. And where does Mr. Cromwell put his million-dollar salary? Not in Teldar stock. He owns less than one percent. You own the company. That's right - you, the stockholder. And you are all being royally screwed over by these, these bureaucrats, with their, their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips, their, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.
Cromwell: This is an outrage! You're out of line Gekko!
Gekko: Teldar Paper, Mr. Cromwell, Teldar Paper has 33 different vice presidents each earning over 200 thousand dollars a year. Now, I have spent the last two months analyzing what all these guys do, and I still can't figure it out. One thing I do know is that our paper company lost 110 million dollars last year, and I'll bet that half of that was spent in all the paperwork going back and forth between all these vice presidents. The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book, you either do it right or you get eliminated. In the last seven deals that I've been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pre-tax profit of 12 billion dollars. [applause] Thank you. I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms: greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.

Carl: "There came into Egypt a pharaoh who did not know."
Gekko: I beg your pardon, is that a proverb?
Carl: No, a prophecy.

Carl: He's using you, kid. He's got your prick in his back pocket, but you're too blind to see it.
Bud: No. What I see is a jealous old machinist who can't stand the fact that his son has become more successful than he has!
Carl: What you see is a guy who never measured a man's success by the size of his wallet!
Bud: That's because you never had the guts to go out into the world and stake your own claim!
[Long pause]
Carl: Boy, if that's the way you feel, I must have done a really lousy job as a father.

Bud: You fucking used me!
Gekko: Well, you're walking around blind without a cane, pal. A fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.
Bud: But why do you need to wreck this company...
Gekko: Because it's WRECKABLE, all right?! I took another look at it and I changed my mind.

Bud: Tell me, Gordon, when does it all end, huh? How many yachts can you water-ski behind? How much is enough?
Gekko: It's not a question of enough, pal. It's a Zero Sum game – somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn't lost or made, it's simply transferred – from one perception to another. Like magic. This painting here? I bought it ten years ago for sixty thousand dollars. I could sell it today for six hundred. The illusion has become real, and the more real it becomes, the more desperately they want it. Capitalism at its finest.
Bud: How much is enough, Gordon?
Gekko: The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars. One third of that comes from hard work, two thirds comes from inheritance, interest on interest accumulating to widows and idiot sons – and what I do, stock and real estate speculation. It's bullshit. You got ninety percent of the American public out there with little or no net worth. I create nothing. I own. We make the rules, pal. The news, war, peace, famine, upheaval, the price per paper clip. We pick that rabbit out of the hat while everybody sits out there wondering how the hell we did it. Now, you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It's the free market. And you're a part of it. You've got that killer instinct. Stick around, pal, I've still got a lot to teach you.

Bud: Look Marv, I know I've been a bit of a schmuck lately, and I just want to apologize.
Marv: You've been a real schmuck lately. So, go thou and sin no more!
Bud: I want to make it up to you.[types on Marv's computer] Bluestar. Put all your clients in it.
Marv: ...Okay, Buddy-Buddy. We're back in business on Bluestar!

Mannheim: Bud... Bud I like you. Just remember something. Man looks in the abyss, there's nothing staring back at him. At that moment man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.
Bud: I think I understand.

Gekko: Hiya, Buddy.
Bud: Gordon.
Gekko: Sandbagged me on Bluestar, huh? I guess you think you taught the teacher a lesson that the tail can wag the dog, huh? Well, let me clue you in, pal. The ice is melting right underneath your feet. [He punches Bud] Do you think you could've gotten this far this fast with anyone else, huh? That you'd be out there dicking someone like Darien? Naw … you'd still be cold calling widows and dentists trying to sell them 20 shares of some dog shit stock. I took you in … [He hits him again] A nobody! [He hits him harder] I opened the doors for you … showed you how the system works … the value of information … how to get it! Fulham Oil, Brant Resources, Geo Dynamics, and this is how you fucking pay me back, you cockroach! [He knocks Bud to the ground] I gave you Darien! I gave you your manhood, I gave you everything! [calms down] You could've been one of the great ones, Buddy. I look at you and I see myself. Why?
Bud: I don't know. I guess I realized that I'm just Bud Fox … and as much as I wanted to be Gordon Gekko, I'll always be Bud Fox.

Carl: You told the truth and gave the money back. All things considered in this cockamamie world, you're shooting par.
Mrs. Fox: You helped save the airline, and the airline people are gonna remember you for it.
Carl: That's right. If I were you, I'd think about the job at Bluestar that Wildman offered you.
Bud: Dad, I'm going to jail and you know it.
Carl: Yeah, well, maybe that's the price, son. It's gonna be hard on you, that's for sure. But maybe in some kind of screwed-up way, it's the best thing that could've happened to you. Stop going for the easy buck and produce something with your life. Create instead of living off the buying and selling of others.

Wall Street (Oliver Stone's Commentary, 2000)

  • I wanted to explore the new Wall Street. When I was writing Scarface in Miami, there was so much coke around and so many lunatics, and I met so many kids from Wall Street who were millionaires. I thought older men were rich, but here were these kids, 25 or 28 or 35 years old, with millions of dollars playing the markets all over the world around the clock. My father would have been shocked by the new electronics that allowed it…. Dad was a stockbroker on Wall Street when there was more integrity and class.
  • Wall Street was an extension of Scarface.
  • This is about getting into a corporation, screwing it up, putting in poison pills so your competitor can’t swallow it…. Very intricate game played in the 1980’s…. Mike Milken did it with junks bonds, Drexel Burnham.
  • I’m ambivalent. I like Gekko, which is partly why Michael Douglas did so well…. Gekko is despicable but kinda fun too.
  • Money never sleeps.
  • All these Wall Street lawyers are running the system according to Buckminster Fuller. After World War II they took most of the money out of the United States, they drained the blood out of the United States and put it abroad, overseas capital…. Fuller calls it Lawyer Capitalism, the lawyers run the show. Tax laws are the key. In the postwar years, tax law allowed US capital to go abroad…. It all fled the country and stayed abroad and America changed tremendously…. We became a world power, yet a rapacious one, with capitalists really doing a major theft of our money…. Nixon took us off the Gold standard in 1972 because America went bankrupt…. All these recessions in the 70’s, 80’s…. My father got wiped out on Wall Street.
  • It’s funny to read articles about Gordon Gekko as if he exists…. If you really listen to Gekko’s speech, half of it makes sense…. But it’s the excess, losing moderation, that destroys all…. There is nothing inherently wrong with greed as a human motivator, greed motivating evolution…. But there’s a huge disconnect between the classes. It is very demoralizing to work for someone who makes a billion dollars a year while you make just barely enough to make it.
  • Greed is good. Taken from Ivan Boesky’s speech saying ‘Greed is right.’… Gekko says he wrecks it ‘because it is wreckable.’ There is an impulse in Gekko to take, to rape…. Kirk Kerkorian destroyed MGM and UA…. Buy both companies and destroy both. And that was the end of the movie business. UA and MGM were two great film companies. Suddenly they were one lousy company. Kerkorian did it for the money, like Gekko. He didn’t care about film. Never. He sold it off in pieces. He cannibalized it. Just like Gekko. These guys do what suits their short-term.
  • Zero sum game implies winners and losers. If somebody wins, somebody gotta lose…. I don’t agree with that. Because all boats can rise on a rising sea. Good films help other good films. Different psychology. If you’re overly competitive, you say it is exclusionary, a zero sum game: I must win so he must lose. That’s not true. We can all win without forcing the other guy to lose.
  • Balzac was right…. There is tremendous jealousy about money.
  • I leave Bud Fox in the canyons of Wall Street, just another ant, one of millions of ants…. We’re all absorbed in this system of capitalism…. You join the collective unconscious.


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