(Dow Jones) The first "Wall Street" movie showed how much trouble can result from embracing protagonist Gordon Gekko's maxim: "Greed is good."
Now, 23 years later, the sequel is arriving, with Michael Douglas reprising the Gekko role. Financial professionals are wondering what new message "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," director Oliver Stone's follow-up to his 1987 original, will deliver.
With the film set to premiere Friday, some financial advisors and other industry folks shared their thoughts on the cinematic Wall Street, then and now.
Blaine Aikin, president, fi360 (a company that provides fiduciary tools and training), Bridgeville, Penn.: "I was a broker when the first movie was released. I remember most vividly the moment when Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen's character) crossed the boundaries of law and ethics as he blurted out inside information to Gordon Gekko in order to open the door to what Bud expected to be wealth and recognition. Leading up to that point, I was uncomfortable with the film's all-too-accurate portrayal of the pressure to generate sales that I and my associates experienced as brokers--everything from how the office manager's relationships with the brokers depended almost entirely on production numbers to how office space was rearranged to reflect a broker's sales success."
Beth D. Lynch, CFP, Schneider Downs Wealth Management Advisors, Pittsburgh: "The first movie captured the corruption, insider trading and market manipulation of the times. I was wondering if or when the characters would get caught or how they would get away with it. But at the time, I had no idea what I was going to do when I grew up. If I remember correctly, I believe I wanted to go into the Navy and fly F-16s--thanks to 'Top Gun.'"
Jonathan Marks, partner and CPA, Crowe Howath LLP, New York: "I have watched the first movie about 50 times. But other than the obvious Gordon Gekko quotes, what sticks in my mind is what the wise, older broker Lou Mannheim (played by Hal Holbrook) has to say: 'The main thing about money ... is that it makes you do things you don't want to do.' The first movie made me interested in learning more about why people act that way and led me into forensic accounting. I have learned that white-collar criminals know that people live on the hope of a better financial future."
Bruce Fenton, managing director, Atlantic Financial, Norwell, Mass.: "I'm embarrassed to admit it, but the first movie did play a part in my decision to go into the industry--for the lifestyle and the adventure of the game. I think most advisers over 35 who say otherwise are not being truthful. Hopefully, we've matured a bit since then."
Dock David Treece, investment advisor, Treece Investments, Toledo, Ohio: "I found Gordon Gekko to be very prophetic; it has always been fascinating to me that a multi-trillion dollar industry can exist wherein NOTHING is created; the whole system revolves around the transfer of ownership and/or debt."
Richard Linowes, professor, American University's Kogod School of Business, Washington, D.C.: "I hated the first movie. It was a realistic portrayal of some aspects of the business--the trading floor, the trading dynamics, the facilities, the dress-but it zeroed in on a few rats in the corner and largely ignored the people of fine character in the business. The story concentrated on bad apples and not the principled, honest people who are essential players in our financial markets."
Michael Stepanski, associate, Financial Advisors of Delaware Valley, Marlton, N.J.: "I remember the scene where Bud Fox's father (played by Martin Sheen) calls out Gordon Gekko for who he is. It struck a chord with me because it showed me that no matter how much of a hotshot I thought I was, I didn't have the experience or street smarts of my father, who is a hairdresser and very much like Bud Fox's dad."
Andrew Stoltmann, investment fraud attorney, Stoltmann Law Offices, Chicago: "The attitude in the original movie showed the unbridled greed of Wall Street in a way that shocked many of us. Unfortunately, the only thing that has changed between the release of the two movies is nobody wears suspenders anymore."
Copyright (c) 2010, Dow Jones. For more information about Dow Jones' services for advisors, please click here.