'Greed is good': Oliver Stone explains origin and relevance of classic 'Wall Street' line 30 years later

Error Saving Reaction

Screenshot


'Greed is good': Oliver Stone explains origin and relevance of classic 'Wall Street' line 30 years later

Michael Douglas never actually says the line “greed is good” in Wall Street, the seminal stockbroking drama that Oliver Stone deposited in theaters 30 years ago this December. It’s one of those infamous, constantly misquoted movie lines, up there with “Play it again, Sam” (it’s “Play it, Sam”) and “If you build it, they will come” (“If you build it, he will come”).

Here’s what Douglas’s slick finance shark, Gordon Gekko, really says as he delivers a speech to a panel of suits: “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed is — for lack of a better word — is good. Greed is right. Greed works.” Nevertheless, as a mantra, the simplified “greed is good” worked perfectly in summarizing the essence of Stone’s film, the first to document the excess and ethical quandaries that began consuming the industry in the 1980s.

Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment in advance of Wall Street‘s return to theaters next week to commemorate its 30th anniversary, Stone explained the origin of the iconic line from the script he co-wrote with Stanley Weiser.

“It was part of a speech that was given by a guy named Ivan Boesky, who was an inside trader,” Stone revealed. “He was quite well-known, and he went to jail…. But in one of his speeches, he said, ‘Greed is right,’ so we based it on that line.”

It was during a 1986 commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley, when Boesky (who was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiring to file false stock trading records a week after Wall Street opened in theaters) uttered that phrase. “Greed is all right, by the way,” he told the graduating class. “I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.”

Wall Street was a deeply personal endeavor for Stone, the 71-year-old native New Yorker behind such other cinematic touchstones as Platoon (1986), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), and JFK (1991). His father, Louis Stone, “was the definition of a Wall Street stock broker” and an economist who authored a widely circulated, international monthly investment newsletter. Louis, who influenced Hal Holbrook’s old-school, morally sound banker, Lou Mannheim, died while the film was in production, and Oliver dedicated Wall Street to his dad’s memory.

“A new kind of attitude emerged in the 1980s, it was much more selfish,” Stone said. “My father would not have recognized it. People like Gekko and so forth, they were the outlaws, they were bandits… We were trying to get across that this business was changing.”

Wall Street, though, had some unintended consequences. It apparently motivated legions of money-hungry entrepreneurial types to aspire to be the next Gordon Gekko or Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), the upstart trader taken under Gekko’s wing.

“A lot of people who are now in their middle ages have said to me, ‘I got into this business partly because I saw your movie and it made me want to go to Wall Street,'” Stone confessed. “They’d say, ‘I didn’t want to be an electrical engineer anymore. I wanted to make some money.’ I’d say, ‘Didn’t you get the point? That Gekko was not a good guy.’ And they’d [respond], ‘Yeah but, it’s still exciting… I figure I don’t have to be a Gekko to do it, I can figure out a way to make money honestly.'”

There’s no confusion where Stone sits on the film’s famous refrain. “Greed is not good,” he said bluntly. It’s part of the reason why when he revisited Gekko in the 2010 sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, the line was remixed. “I once said, ‘Greed is good,’ Douglas says in the film. “Now it seems it’s legal. Because everyone is drinking the same Kool-Aid.”

Both Wall Street and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps proved profitable investments for their distributor, Fox, but Stone doesn’t see the series becoming a trilogy. “He’d have to be a grandfather,” the filmmaker laughed of Gekko’s character. “I think he was old enough. I think the audiences to some degree wanted to have him young again or as badass. But the whole point of that second movie was that he had been changed by his experiences.”

In other words, Stone isn’t about to get greedy.

Wall Street returns to theaters nationwide for special screenings on Sept. 24. and Sept. 27. Watch the trailer:

Read more on Yahoo Entertainment:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Views: 17
0
0
0
Author: Regular Articles
Tell a friend
Average rating:
(0 votes)
Average rating from Reviews:
(0 votes)

Write a review

Reviews

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Mining, Golden Star Resources, Randgold Resources and Kinross Gold

Zacks Industry Outlook Highlights: Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Mining, Golden Star Resources, Randgold Resources and Kinross Gold Read More

Gold Mining Stock Outlook - Sept. 2017

Gold Mining Stock Outlook - Sept. 2017 Read More

Why Freeport-McMoran (FCX) Stock Might be a Great Pick

Freeport-McMoran (FCX) is seeing solid earnings estimate revision activity, and is a great company from a Zacks Industry Rank perspective. Read More

Friend of slain Georgia Tech student: 'If Scout was more gender-conforming, would it have been different?'

Scout Schultz, a Georgia Tech student, was shot by campus police on Saturday night, and a protest two days later led to arrests. In the aftermath of those events, Yahoo Lifestyle talked to a friend... Read More

How to Make Healthy Leftover Turkey Tacos

These tacos get a healthy makeover by using turkey as the main lean protein. It all comes together with some beans, avocado, and a little cheese. Watch the video to learn how to make this easy... Read More

Little People, Big World's Audrey Roloff Just Gave Birth to Her First Child

It's a girl! Read More

Mel Brooks: ‘Blazing Saddles’ Would Never Be Made in Today’s ‘Stupidly Politically Correct’ Culture

“Blazing Saddles” may be a groundbreaking comedy, but director Mel Brooks doesn’t think Hollywood would make the iconic Western parody in this current “stupidly politically correct” climate. The... Read More

Box Office: 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Unseats 'It' as 'Lego Ninjago' Disappoints

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the new ruler of the box office. The sequel from Fox is expected to earn $39 million this weekend from 4,003 locations. That’s slightly below where tracking had... Read More

Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga’s ‘Star Is Born’ Moves to May 2018

Warner Bros.’ “A Star Is Born” remake starring Stefani Germanotta (Lady Gaga) and Bradley Cooper, who is also directing, is moving up its release to May 18, 2018. The pic was originally set to open... Read More

White House officials defend Trump, say athletes 'can do free speech on their own time'

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin defended Trump’s call for NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to be suspended or fired. “It’s not about free speech,” Mnucin said Sunday. “They can do... Read More

In wake of U.N. speech, Kim calls Trump a ‘dotard.’ Trump fires back at ‘madman.’

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have unleashed personal attacks on one another after the U.S. commander in chief’s speech at the United Nations. “Kim Jong Un of North Korea,... Read More

As Russia probe turns to fake Facebook ads, Trump follows with a tweet

President Trump continued his efforts to belittle accusations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election on Friday, turning to the latest set of charges, involving targeted political ads placed on... Read More

Reluctant champion: How Nadia Murad has become the international face of Yazidi suffering – and resilience

Weeks earlier, Nadia Murad had been ripped from her village by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters who murdered her family and took her captive. Along with other young Yazidi women, she was transported... Read More

Readers write: The work of downsizing, evidence of climate change, hopeful coverage on famine

Regarding the Aug. 21 Monitor Daily story “Home prices, and a thought shift, give ‘small living’ a boost”: Interesting concept. My friend has done it, downsizing and living in a tiny apartment.... Read More

Time for the world to step up on Rohingya issue, Aung San Suu Kyi’s astounding hypocrisy, Irma’s destruction in Britain’s Caribbean islands, The US should stop saber rattling, On the Nadal-Federer comeback

“It is high time the world made an all-out effort to stop the ongoing pogrom against Myanmar’s minority Rohingya...,” writes Mohammad Amjad Hossain. “The pogrom resembles those crimes perpetrated... Read More