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Profile in Villainy #1: Gordon Gekko

September 13, 2010

Cinematic villainy is a subject I don’t devote nearly enough bandwidth to. Well I’m going to remedy this with a new weekly column called, “Profile in Villainy”. And who better to start with (Besides Hans Gruber) than Mr. “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good” himself – Gordon Gekko.

Wall Street centers on the lives of rich, greedy white guys who want to get richer, cut with a side of schadenfreuden! Often described as a, “Morality tale”, which is just code for, “why can’t we skip the part where they lose their fame, fortune and freedom; it makes me sad.”

The first film was not the final word on Mr. Gekko! Oh no. He’s baaaaack and seems a bit humbled by his lengthy prison stint!

Name: Gordon Gekko, 80s corporate raider. Married with one child (who is never mentioned in the first movie)

Movie: Wall Street A film by Oliver Stone.

Played by: Michael Douglas. Earned 1987 Academy Award for shutting down his performance as corporate raider Gordon Gekko. Frequently conflated with his on screen persona! It’s not my favorite performance of his – that’s reserved for Traffic – but it’s certainly one of the best things he’s done, in a career riddled with exceptional performances.

The actor was also asked to compare nuclear Armageddon with the “financial Armageddon on Wall Street”. After one reporter inquired, “Are you saying, Gordon, that greed is not good?” Douglas stated, “I’m not saying that. And my name is not Gordon. It’s a character I played 20 years ago.”

iconic monologue:
I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.

Key scene:

memorable props:

Gekko’s bell bottom mobile phone.

age of the geek, baby!

Key catch phrase(s):

“Greed, for a lack of a better word, is good.”
“Money never sleeps, pal.”

Current Fate: At some point in the late 80s Mr. Gekko was sent to prison for insider trading. As of 2010, he’s been released and has penned a quasi-memoir/financial bible.

Appropriate music from the era

Notorious – Duran Duran

Tell me Lies – Fleetwood Mac

You Be Illin’ – Run DMC

Ocean Front Property – George Strait

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps opens September 24. Hide your jewelry!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2010 10:54 am

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH — I was snickering and nodding all along, but you mentioning that George Strait song finally made me bust out loud laughing.

  2. September 13, 2010 11:05 am

    Part of what I find chilling about Douglas’ performance as Gekko is that I was so used to seeing him as a hero (I grew up watching him play sidekick to Karl “Don’t Leave Home Without It” Malden on Streets of San Francisco).

    I can’t wait for more of these!

  3. September 13, 2010 11:26 am


    I love, absolutely love, Gordon Gekko. Enough so that I will see the sequel.

    Also, Ray, I totally lost it when I got to the George Straight song, too. It made me LOL out loud.

  4. September 13, 2010 11:43 am

    Omg, that Strait song is my jammy jam! If you’ll buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free!

  5. September 15, 2010 10:59 am

    Yes. Profile in Villainy #1 for sure! I wonder if Gordon Gekko hadn’t turned up, what would the 1980s have been like. I mean, yes, there would have been all of the stock market stuff, etc. but Gekko was just such a magnet (or magnate?) and galvanized the corporate raider mentality in a way that simply accelerated everything… everybody who fancied themselves a player on Wall Street wanted to do it Gordon’s way.

    I wonder if the new film is going to create a new wave of Money Barons out to step on the little guys one more time?

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