Films on Greed

The Wolf of Wall Street

Docudrama 2013 R. Martin Scorcese’s high-rolling Wall Street drama is based on the memoirs of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, whose giddy career — involving audacious scams and confrontations with the FBI and other agencies — ended in federal prison. See Full Review

To Catch a Trader

Documentary Frontline 2014 Jan7. The insider trading trial of Mathew Martoma has offered new insights into what authorities call “the most lucrative inside tip of all time.” The hedge fund SAC Capital, is also facing heavy scrutiny. A former hedge fund trader, Turney Duff says he never worried about breaking insider-trading laws. “We’re thinking, this is how it’s done and I need to make money,” he says. Link to View This FRONTLINE Story for Free (Listed by Date 2014 Jan7):

Money, Power and Wall Street

Documentary Frontline 2012 Apr12 NR. Get the inside story of struggles to rescue a shattered economy, exploring the key decisions, the missed opportunities and the uneasy partnership between government and Wall Street that influences the fortunes of millions of people around the world. Link to View This FRONTLINE Story for Free (Listed by Date 2012 Apr12):

Wall Street

Drama 1987 R 125 minutes. Enterprising stockbroker Bud Fox falls under the enticing spell of Gordon Gekko, an unscrupulous Wall Street arbitrageur. But when Gekko embroils his protégé in an insider-trading scheme, Fox develops a conscience and decides to turn the tables. Gordon Gekko utters the now-famous belief that “Greed, for want of a better word, is good.” See Full Review

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Drama 2010 PG-13 138 minutes. Trader Jake (Shia LaBeouf) tries to mend the broken relationship between his fiancée, Winnie (Carey Mulligan), and her father, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), while avenging the fate of his mentor, Lou (Frank Langella), by getting close to Wall Street’s new megalomaniac, Bretton James (Josh Brolin). Centered on the 2008 financial crisis, director Oliver Stone’s follow-up is a modern-day ode to unfettered capitalism and, of course, greed.

Let’s Make Money

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 47m Let’s Make Money is not about how to make money. This film traces money as it goes through the global finance system — exposing policies and practices affecting the worldwide economy. This film is about the billions, trillions of dollars that go to selfish human greed and not to basic human need. This shows the planetary marketplace from all perspectives: wealthy investors, business owners, bankers, laborers, activists, government officials, impoverished people — from all around the globe. See Full Review

Were Not Broke

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 20m. In this searing exposé, filmmakers explore the discontent of activists fed up with a government that allows U.S. corporations to skip out on paying their fair share of taxes. Many make billions in profits but pay $0 in taxes, leaving consumers to shoulder the brunt of a great recession. See Full Review

Park Avenue:
Money, Power and the American Dream

Documentary 2012 NR 1hr 10m. Documentarian Alex Gibney focuses on the gap between rich and poor by examining New York’s Park Avenue, home to America’s highest concentration of billionaires. Meanwhile, down the street, South Bronx is the poorest congressional district in the U.S.

Chasing Madoff

Documentary 2010 NR 91 mins.  This eye-opening documentary chronicles the long and often frustrating campaign of financial analyst Harry Markopolos to bring federal regulators’ attention to the brazen investment scams engineered by now-convicted felon Bernie Madoff.  This is an in-depth exposé of how one man saw thru a fraud of huge magnitude and chose to do something about it — when others including the SEC did not.  A lot can be learned from this film about what really happened — the stuff we never saw or heard about in the media.  The movie unfolds like a thriller–but it is all true.  See Full Review

Fed Up

Documentary 2014 PG 90 minutes. The film focuses on the causes of obesity in the United States. It presents evidence showing that the large quantities of sugar in processed foods are an overlooked root of the problem. It points to the monied lobbying power of “Big Sugar” in blocking attempts to enact effective policies to address the issue. This eye-opening documentary examines the underlying causes behind the obesity epidemic, including the marketing strategies of major U.S. food producers. How did 60% of the country get so fat?  2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight, with 1 in 3 adults considered obese. Childhood obesity has become an ever-more serious medical issue in the United States. The film includes touching video self-portraits by young people who belong to the almost 17 percent of children and adolescents, ages 2 to 19, who are considered obese. The obese parents who raise obese children — why aren’t they in the least bit curious as to how they’ve become 300 pounders when their ancestors were all normal. This film is an expose of the food industry’s pedaling of sugar-rich junk food to kids and the epidemic of obesity that has resulted from it. It rightly points to the chief villain in our food choices–sugar–as addictive and toxic. Sugar is clearly added to food products that historically had none in an effort to elicit a crave factor, so you can’t stop eating them. See Full Review

American Addict

Documentary 2013 NR 1hr 29min. The United States’ alarming appetite for prescription drugs is the focus of this sober documentary, which aims to illuminate a national health crisis. The title is misleading — the film is more about unethical practices by the pharmaceutical industry and the gross ineffectiveness of the FDA than it is about addiction to prescribed medications. The over-use of pharmaceuticals in this country is an epidemic, and this is a very good objective source of information. With only five percent of world population, more than 50% of all prescription drugs in the world are used in the US, and 80% of all narcotic prescription drugs are used in the US. The fourth leading cause of death in the US is medications. How can this be normal?? I’ve been reading for years about the actions of the pharmaceutical drug companies, collectively called Big Pharma, and it is nice to have it so well and so thoroughly covered. The facts put forward can be checked and verified quite easily. An excellent and riveting look at how Big Pharma are making America the most prescription-addicted society in the world.  See Full Review

Inequality for All

Documentary 2013 PG 1hr 30m. Former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich makes a compelling case about the serious crisis the U.S. faces due to the widening economic gap. This film is entertaining, but it also educates. This is one of the best documentaries I have seen in years.

Boiler Room

Docudrama 2000 R 120 minutes. Underground casino operator and college dropout Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi) becomes too involved in a sham New York brokerage firm and decides to go straight after his stern father (Ron Rifkin) rescinds all contact with him. Eager to make an honest living, win his father’s approval and the love of kindly Abbie (Nia Long), Seth risks everything when he turns his back on his greedy, hard-partying colleagues. Ben Affleck and Vin Diesel co-star.The film is based on interviews the writer conducted with numerous brokers over a two-year period, and is inspired by the firmStratrton Oakmont and the life of Jordan Belfort, whose autobiography was later adapted into Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort.


Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 24m. Awaiting sentencing and under house arrest, white-collar criminal Marc Dreier reveals how he hatched a Ponzi scheme which lost $750 million.

The Madoff Affair

Documentary Frontline 2009 NR 60 minutes. Sentenced to 150 years in federal prison, Bernie Madoff perpetrated the largest financial fraud in history. Following a timeline dating back to the 1960s, Frontline takes you inside the web of deception that snagged investors for $65 billion. In the mid-1960s, Bernard Madoff tapped money from Jewish businessmen at exclusive country clubs with the promise of steady guaranteed returns on their investments. He then set his sights on Europe and Latin America, brokering deals with powerful hedge fund managers and feeder funds from Buenos Aires to Geneva. Billions of dollars were channeled to Madoff’s investment firm, and his feeders became fabulously wealthy. The competition wondered how the man could produce such steady returns in good times and bad. There were allegations that Madoff was “front-running” or operating a Ponzi scheme, which the SEC investigated several times over the last two decades. But Madoff remained untouched until Dec. 11, 2008, when he admitted it was all “one big lie.” Frontline producers Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria unravel the story behind the world’s first truly global Ponzi scheme — a deception that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any other business scandal in history.

Scam of the Century!

Documentary CNBC 2008 PG 43 minutes. As the far-reaching, devastating scandal unfolds, CNBC delves into the mind of Bernie Madoff and explores how the alleged scheme worked. Who were the victims in the multibillion-dollar scam?

American Hustle

Docudrama 2013 R. This fictionalization of the “Abscam” (Arab scam) scandal of the early 1980s follows con man Irving Rosenfeld and his lover, Sydney Prosser, as they help an eccentric FBI agent expose corruption among several members of Congress in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The opening screen states:  “Some of this actually happened.” Christian Bale is hilarious and occasionally heart-wrenching as a con-man trying to make it big; Amy Adams is alluring as his mistress and partner; Bradley Cooper plays an FBI agent who exudes ambition and greed; and Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as an unbalanced wife.  And then you throw in a likeable mayor (Jeremy Renner) who believes he’s helping his city, corrupt politicians, and the mob. It deftly balances humor and serious drama. This is a silly, fun, and funny film with great acting and good dialogue.

Inside Job

Documentary 2010 PG-13 108 minutes. Director Charles Ferguson clearly maps out the origins of the global economic meltdown of 2008, how it could have been prevented, how it could have been lessened. This sobering, Oscar-winning documentary presents in comprehensive yet cogent detail the pervasive and deep-rooted corruption that led to the economic crisis of 2008. Through unflinching interviews with key financial insiders, politicos, journalists and academics, Ferguson paints a galling portrait of an unfettered financial system run amok — without accountability. Actor Matt Damon narrates. The analysis is piercing and relentlessly thorough. It lays out the problems with the financial industry, how it effects the entire world, addresses what should be done, and the difficulty getting anything done. “Best documentary I have seen! Impeccably done! I am recommending this to everyone I know. Everyone on the planet should watch this film.” See Full Review

House of Cards

Documentary CNBC Originals 2009 TV-PG 1hr 30m. This documentary on the housing and economic crisis explains in great detail exactly what caused the US economic crash of 2008, the most crushing economic crisis since the Depression. CNBC investigates the defining story of our time with inside accounts from key players, tracing the origins of the calamity from Main Street to Wall Street to Washington. The financial industry has so many layers and so many players that it makes it difficult for the average person / homeowner to truly understand how we got into this mess. This lays it out step by step. See Full Review

The Queen of Versailles

Documentary 2012 PG 100 minutes. Meet the Siegels, glitterati who made a fortune in the time-share business only to see it crumble in the 2008 financial collapse. The site of their rise and almost-fall is their home (America’s largest), a gaudy replica of the Palace of Versailles.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Documentary 2005 R 110 minutes. Based on the book of the same name by Peter Elkin, director Alex Gibney’s documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the powerful energy company whose downfall forever changed the landscape of the business world.

The Yes Men Fix the World

Documentary 2009 NR 87 minutes. Two didactic pranksters known as the Yes Men — Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno — employ monkey business to highlight the political and economic shenanigans surrounding ecological catastrophes like the 1984 Union Carbide Corporation disaster in India. They pose as spokesman for the Dow Corporation (which took over Union Carbide) and go on live TV apologizing for their role in the incident and pledging to fix the wrong. In this film, the Yes Men go after a collection of corporations who have injured the world in one way or another. They go into corporate meetings and conventions posing as heads of business to expose how greed and instant stock satisfaction destroys lives. See Full Review

Greed (2006)

Drama 2006 R. The concept of greed plays out in the lives of several different characters — including a self-absorbed teenage girl and an unscrupulous man running for elected office (writer-director Taylor Hayden) — in this independent drama based on one of the seven deadly sins. There’s also an elderly woman who’s prostituting her niece’s youth, and an Average Joe who’s tethered to a woman who only thinks of herself.

Barbarians at the Gate

Docucomedy 1993 R 107 minutes. This seriocomedy based on the RJR-Nabisco leveraged buyout neatly encapsulates the greed that became synonymous with the 1980s. James Garner has never been better as charming, covetous CEO F. Ross Johnson. Johnson grabs for the brass ring when he tries to buy out the conglomerate, only to run up against investment banker Henry Kravis (Jonathan Pryce), who gave him the idea.

Other People’s Money

Satire 1991 R 101 minutes. Danny DeVito stars as Lawrence Garfield, a pint-sized, rapacious corporate raider conspiring to take over a business run by upright Andrew Jorgenson (Gregory Peck) — all while putting the moves on Jorgenson’s attorney stepdaughter (Penelope Ann Miller). Is there a mutual attraction, or will she use her feminine wiles to outmaneuver the conniving vulture? Piper Laurie and Dean Jones co-star in this well-crafted satire helmed by Norman Jewison. Lawrence Garfield: “I love money. I love money more than the things it can buy. There’s only one thing I love more than money. You know what that is? Other people’s money!”

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Drama 1990 R 125 minute. Brian De Palma directs the film version of Tom Wolfe’s satire about race, politics and greed in 1980s New York. In it, Tom Hanks stars as Sherman McCoy, a wealthy Wall Street investor whose life takes a dark turn when his mistress (Melanie Griffith) hits a black youth with his car. When tabloid journalist Peter Fallow (Bruce Willis) gets wind of the situation, he turns it into front-page news, inciting a racial incident in this game of dog-eat-dog.

Trading Places

Comedy 1983 R 116 minutes. Eddie Murphy established himself as a comedy superstar playing streetwise hustler Billy Ray Valentine, who trades places with wealthy investment executive Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) to see whether circumstances truly do make the man. It’s all part of a bet cooked up by the rich, greedy Duke brothers (Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy). But when Valentine and Winthorpe find out about the wager, the payback begins. Jamie Lee Curtis co-stars.


Comedy 1994 PG-13 112 minutes. Meet the McTeagues — a hilariously funny, highly dysfunctional clan who all want a piece of their wealthy uncle’s will. The only trouble is that he’s not dead yet! Things quickly get out of hand, and soon the McTeagues are elevating back-stabbing and brown-nosing to new levels. Michael J. Fox, Kirk Douglas and Nancy Travis star in this “comedy of heirs.”

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Drama 1948 NR 126 minutes. Wrapped in a classic tale of adventure, this Academy Award winner helmed by John Huston follows a trio of gold prospectors who set out to strike it rich and agree to split the take until paranoia and greed consumes one of them. Delivering superb performances as the three miners are Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt and Walter Huston, who copped a Best Supporting Actor Oscar while son John scored statuettes for his direction and screenplay.

Greed (1924)

Drama 1924. The plot follows a dentist whose wife wins a lottery ticket, only to become obsessed with money. When her former lover betrays the dentist as a fraud, all of their lives are destroyed. It was directed by Erich von Stroheim. The film was adapted by von Stroheim (shooting screenplay) and Joseph Farnham (titles) from the 1899 novel McTeague by Frank Norris. Originally over ten hours long, Greed was ultimately edited against von Stroheim’s permission to about two and a half hours, and the full-length version is a lost film.


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