Image: Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko
Twentieth Century Fox
Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) is the cold-blooded stockbroker that takes Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) under his wing in Oliver Stone's 1987 movie "Wall Street."
updated 2/18/2006 6:58:24 PM ET 2006-02-18T23:58:24

Greed is good. What's worth doing is worth doing for money. Lunch is for wimps. If you need a friend, buy a dog.

So goes the wisdom of Gordon Gekko, ruthless investor, legendary financier — and the star of the best movie ever made about money.

That's the honor conferred upon Oliver Stone's 1987 film "Wall Street" by the readers of and a panel of film critics. With more than 2,600 ballots cast, "Wall Street" pulled in a stunning 35 percent of the readers' vote, more than triple the number of votes for the second-best film, 1983's "Trading Places."

To select the best movies ever made about money, we asked for nominations from a panel of experts: Richard Roeper, a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and co-host of the syndicated movie-review TV program "Ebert & Roeper;" Neil Rosen, an Emmy-award winning entertainment reporter for cable news channel NY1; and Jeffrey Lyons, a film critic for WNBC in New York and host of numerous radio and TV programs.

The final nominees ranged from Erich von Stroheim's 1924 silent film "Greed" to the 2004 summer popcorn flick "National Treasure." readers then voted for their favorites.

The winner, "Wall Street," tells the story of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), an ambitious young stockbroker who convinces cold-blooded magnate Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) to take him under his wing. He soon learns that illegal insider information is the secret to Gekko's success, and together they plot a corporate raid against a small airline, Bluestar — the company Fox's father works for. The young apprentice must struggle with filial obligations, his sense of morality and whether it's better to possess money or integrity.

Bud Fox might be the protagonist of "Wall Street," but the movie's real star is Gekko. The larger-than-life character is a walking, talking embodiment of 1980s avarice and corporate malfeasance, a surrogate for real-life villains like corporate raider Ivan Boesky. Michael Douglas won an Oscar in 1988 for his performance, and the character's dialogue — particularly his famous speech about how "greed is good" — remains firmly in the minds of many moviegoers.

Curiously, even though Gekko is the film's villain, the character seems to be remembered largely in a positive sense — as a business guru, a take-no-prisoners negotiator and an all-around master of the universe. His glamor and power no doubt inspired many young men to enter the world of investment banking over the last two decades.

Some of the other films on our list tackle man's relationship to money in very different ways. The second-best movie, the 1983 hit "Trading Places," uses humor to lampoon the way we sometimes value money more than we do people. In the film, commodities traders Randolph and Mortimer Duke (Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche) make a bet over the age-old nature versus nurture question: Will blueblood executive Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Ackroyd) turn to crime if robbed of his money and power, and can two-bit hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) be successfully brought into polite society and high finance?

Whether they're comedies or dramas, the films on our list resonate with viewers not just because they have great directing, talented actors and clever scripts, but because they address a fundamental concern: money. As Gekko said, "It's all about bucks, kid. The rest is conversation."

© 2012


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