Before ‘The Wolf’: 4 Films of Wall Street Excess and Greed

Trading Places

Last weekend, The Wolf of Wall Street hit the $300 million mark and officially became Martin Scorsese’s top grossing film. It’s not hard to see why — the film is directed by one of the most iconic filmmakers of our time, tells a salacious true story about brokers gone bad, and stars several Hollywood heavyweights, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.

But Wolf is hardly the first film to tell the tale of the financial district’s dominance and decadence. In fact, Hollywood’s been doing Wall Street for years. If you can’t make it out to your local theater to see The Wolf of Wall Street, here are four other flicks that you can check out in the meantime.

1. Trading Places (1983) — dir. John Landis

The high stakes that go into trading on the stock market don’t always lend themselves to comedy. But like The Wolf of Wall Street, Trading Places manages to make Wall Street laugh-out-loud funny. The film, which is loosely based on Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, stars Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy as a commodities broker and a streetwise hustler who unknowingly trade places and experience what life is like on the other side of the socioeconomic fence. Trading Places was a critical and commercial success, commended for its rich social satire and the chemistry between the two leads. If you love a good laugh, then you’ll want to check out Trading Places.

Wall Street

2. Wall Street (1987) — dir. Oliver Stone

Considered by many to be the quintessential film about the financial sector, Wall Street paints a picture of an industry that’s equal parts danger and decadence. It stars Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, the ruthless and cunning mentor who shows the ropes to young stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen). Wall Street is famous for its astute and accurate portrayal of late-20th century excess and greed. The film won the favor of fans and critics, and Michael Douglas took home the Best Actor Oscar for his convincing and captivating portrayal of Gekko. If you love high-stakes dramas, then you can’t miss Wall Street.

Boiler Room

3. Boiler Room (2000) — dir. Ben Younger

How far as you willing to go to make it to the top? That’s often the question at the center of Wall Street films, and Boiler Room is no different. It tells the story of young stockbrokers running an illegitimate “pump and dump” trading firm just outside of the financial district. When the FBI gets involved, the stakes get higher. Boiler Room is an adrenaline-boosting drama that features memorable performances from Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel, and Giovanni Ribisi. If you love modern crime dramas that keep you on the edge of your seat, Boiler Room may be the movie for you.

Margin Call 2011

4. Margin Call (2011) — dir. J.C. Chandor

Margin Call – directed J.C. Chandor — takes us straight into the heart of Wall Street during the beginning days of the 2008 financial meltdown. It stars Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany, and Zachary Quinto as clever stockbrokers who act quickly to try to avoid the fallout of massive market volatility. Margin Call addresses the complaints that many Americans had about Wall Street in the wake of the collapse by showing some traders as unscrupulous and reckless. But it also gives a thrilling realistic portrayal of the panic and claustrophobia in the financial sector when reality hit. If you love gritty, modern dramas, then you should check out Margin Call.

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