Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #166: Financial World

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This week's theme is the financial world, and I've selected three movies that to a greater or lesser extent touch upon the world of finance:

Jumping Jack Flash (1986). Whoopi Goldberg plays an exchange trader in an office where one day somebody hacks into her computer. That person is claiming to be an British spy trapped in the Soviet Union, and he has to hack into a private-sector computer to get help because that's the only way the Soviets won't notice him. She has to help by getting the British Consulate to help him, but when that goes wrong she's drawn deeper into international intrigue.

A Successful Calamity (1932). George Arliss plays a financier who's just returned from a post-World War I conference in Europe to discuss financing the reconstruction, only to find out that his family are doing their own thing and are too busy to take the time to care about him. So he engineers a fake financial collapse that will get the family to listen to him, only for him to turn the tables and teach them a lesson. Arliss is, as always, delightfully mischievous in this little programmer.

Mister 880 (1950). Edmund Gwenn plays a lonely old man who decides to engage in a little bit of quantitative easing. The only thing is, he doesn't work for the government, so instead of quantitative easing, it's called counterfeiting as he expands the money supply by passing off fake $1 bills. Burt Lancaster plays the Secret Service agent (remember, their original task was to deal with counterfeiters and they were part of the Treasury Department) charged with finally cracking the case, and Dorothy McGuire a UN interpreter who knows Gwenn.


joel65913 said...

Love these choice, well two of them anyway I've somehow missed Jumpin' Jack Flash all these years.

Looking at him now Arliss is such an odd movie star. The man was ancient even by movie star standards of the early talkies yet he was hugely respected and apparently his films were cash cows. I guess it was a similar situation to Marie Dressler his appeal was just so broad that he defied conventions. A Successful Calamity is pleasant, speedy little film with the bonus of Mary Astor that reminded me of Arliss's earlier The Millionaire.

Mister 880 is a minor film but has a lot of charm thanks to Edmund Gwenn, and to a lesser extent Lancaster and McGuire, he's another actor who always made a film better just by showing up.

I tried to decade hop a bit and did manage to find a film that fit that was a pre-code. It's not perfect but amazing bold if you didn't know it came before the Production Code went into effect.

Margin Call (2011)-When the head of risk management (Stanley Tucci) of a large Wall Street firm is unexpectedly laid off he tries to alert someone in the company of the project he was in the midst of that showed troubling evidence of an incipient mass failing of many money markets. He is met with total indifference so on his way out the door he hands the info to one of his assistants who is staying (Zachary Quinto). Intrigued at first and then dumbfounded by what he discovers he finally manages to attract the attention of the higher ups. As a series of late night conferences take place the dawning revelation becomes apparent that a global financial meltdown is set to occur and there is not a damn thing that can stop it. A well-directed look at the immediate lead up to the 2008 financial crisis.

Working Girl (1988)-Mike Nichols directed comedy about ambitious Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith-never more appealing) who despite her college degree and keen intelligence has trouble getting ahead. She goes to work as secretary to Ivy League Katharine Parker (a priceless Sigourney Weaver) in mergers and acquisitions at a large Wall Street investment bank. Lulled into a false sense of security when Katharine seems to extend a helping hand she tells her a provocative idea for a merger that she’s come up with. Katharine without a shred of shame steals the idea behind her back. When circumstances allow Tess to become aware of the duplicity she uses subterfuge teaming with the unaware Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford-sprightly and relaxed) to bring the plan to fruition for herself. All does not go as planned. One of the rare comedies about the financial world that works.

The Crash (1932)-Racy pre-code about Geoffrey and Linda Gault (George Brent & Ruth Chatterton-married in real life at the time), a rapacious couple who go to great lengths to accumulate wealth on the stock market up to and including Geoffrey encouraging Linda to pimp herself out for tips that can add to their fortune. She goes along because she can’t bear the thought of returning to the poverty of her youth. However when Geoffrey angers her with a request, she picks the precisely wrong time to hand him bad information and they are wiped out in the stock market crash of ’29. Staying together in name only while he tries to pick up the pieces she, haunted by her fears, continues to have gentleman friends who give her expensive things until a turning point is reached. Brief (only 58 minutes) and candid with a frankness that would vanish for decades with the implementation of the Production Code the next year.

Dell said...

I've only seen Jumpin' Jack Flash. Fun movie, one of Whoopi's better efforts.

Birgit said...

I haven't seen any of these but I'm so happy to add to old movies to my list especially George Arliss who, like Joel wrote, is one big strange star ever to grace the screen. I have them marked down to see.

Sonia Cerca said...

Haven't seen any of these.