Movies

Movies about Corporate Greed and Corruption

This is a list of movies about corporate greed. There interesting films that range from comedies to dramas to romantic-musicals to based on a true story. They all have one thing in common, immoral practices of business from embezzlement, fraud or capitalism on hyperdrive.

Fun With Dick and Jane (2005)

An average upper-middle-class family find themselves unemployed at the same time and turn to a life of crime. Jane was a travel agent and she quits her job because she wanted to spend more time with her son while Dick loses his job because the company went belly up firing everyone immediately. This is an update to the movie Fun With Dick and Jane that was made in the 1970s with Jane Fonda and George Seigel. The company is updated to be this Enron parody called Globodyne. The movie is a fun, campy view of the downwards spiral of the typical American Dream template.

Screenshot of Columbia Pictures Fun with Dick and Jane (2005). Dick and Jane are dressed up as gender switched Sonny and Cher robbing a car dealership.

The Big Short (2015)

This film is from the view of four companies going through the U.S. financial crisis that was caused by the mortgage bubble bursting. The film discusses the state of business America was in. But due to its unconventional directing style, there’s segues, asides, infomercial explainer videos and documentary-style filming, the audience learns more about hedge fund management and finance. In one of the stories, the mortgage crisis was pinned down to of been caused by flippant irresponsible mortgage dealers and people collecting debt on housing.

Screenshot of Regency Pictures The Big Short (2015). Mark Baum talking to Jared Vennett.

Wall Street (1987)

A classic film about corporate greed and responsibility. A young stockbroker finds a job on wall street. He gets immersed in the corporate culture of the company buying and selling everything fairly well. He soon becomes mentored by the very corrupted boss that essentially teaches him to aim lower and sell higher.

Screenshot of 20th Century Fox Wall Street (1987). Gordon Gecko talking to Buddy Fox in his office.

Working Girl (1988)

A young entry-level woman starts to work for a self-important businesswoman as her secretary. The young woman ends up having her ideas stolen and claimed by her boss. She constantly told that women should stay together while being plagiarized and manhandled by upper management. When her boss goes on a ski trip and breaks her ankle, her secretary takes over completely as her boss by impersonating her for an important client.

Screenshot of 20th Century Fox Working Girl (1988). Tess confronts Katherine in the elevator about intellectual theft.

Thank You For Smoking (2005)

A lobbyist for a big tobacco company suffers a moral dilemma to continue being a soulless bureaucrat working to have cigarettes normalized and more profitable or be a good role model for his son. He also verbally battles an anti-smoking liberal senator that could damage business. This film has a swagger tone to the sales pitch efforts. The film is from the happy optimistic lobbyist point of view.

Screenshot of Fox Searchlight Thank You For Smoking (2005). Nick talks to media in front of courthouse.

Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

A long-running company president commits suicide by running out of the window. The CEOs of the company decide to hire a “face of the company” while the CEOs run everything in the background. The film is set in a dreamlike 1930s New York City while being a fun romantic comedy about the pitfalls of capitalism.

Screenshot of Warner Bros. Pictures Hudsucker Proxy (1994). Norman and Sidney J. Mussburger pose for the newspaper camera.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

A profanity-filled debauchery fest of gluttony and greed. This film is based on the ex-stockbroker Jordan Belfort. A stockbroker opens up a firm to trade penny stocks from wealthy investors defrauding them of millions while living a life of drugs, luxury and expensive products. Things turn against him when the FBI starts to investigate him and his firm for their practices. There’s a lot of cursing in the movie (the most cursing recorded for a movie ever); but there’s more drug use than anything else.

Screenshot of Paramount Pictures The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013). Jordon Belfort perfecting the telephone sales pitch.

American Psycho (2000)

The superficiality and materialism of the 1980s is partly the basis of this film. A wealthy, vain, cold, social-climbing investment banker lives a double life as a serial killer. The film pushes the ambiguity of the protagonist in question as an unreliable narrator filled with hyperbole and flaunting wealth. The movie and the novel of the same name were both controversial for the explicit violence throughout. It’s on this list because his job makes him delusional with what he can get away with because he’s rich.

Screenshot of Lions Gate Pictures American Psycho (2000). Patrick Bateman catches Paul off guard with an axe dressed in a clear poncho.

The Founder (2016)

This movie might make you depressed about the origins of McDonald’s. This film has three compelling and great performances from Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the McDonald brothers. The brothers make a concept of the fast-food restaurant that they perfected and tested but want to expand to different parts. Luck so has it a milkshake salesman finds their restaurant. He gives the brothers the idea to franchise the business which was very successful at growing and eventually pushing the brothers out of their business.

Screenshot of FilmNation The Founder (2016). Roy Kroc doing a sales pitch about powder-based milkshakes.

The Producers (1967/2005)

A greedy Broadway producer decides to do a get rich quick with a nervous accountant prone to hysteria to create the most unwatchable, offensive, idiotic flop. They would cash in from the one night only flop by overselling shares to the production then skip town for retirement. The play was Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden. It’s a romantic musical written by a deranged ex-Nazi, directed by an uppity pretentious director who doesn’t listen to others and a drugged up unreliable counterculture lead on L.S.D named L.S.D. (Lorenzo St. DuBois).

Screenshot of MGM The Producers (1967). Max Bialystock doing a financial sales pitch to Leo Bloom about producing the worst play imaginable.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

A real estate office sets out a contest to the salesmen to make the biggest sale of their career in one week from the head office representative. The first prize is cash, second prize is a set of steak knives and third prize is unemployment for the salesmen. A desperate salesman tries to scheme his way to the top with another coworker but things blow up in his face.

Screenshot of New Line Cinema Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). Head office official Blake making a speech to salesmen to be “Always Be Closing.”

Trading Places (1983)

Two men unexpectedly switch places in life when two multi-billionaires debate if nature makes success or if it’s nurture. They switch out a preppy overly groomed snob who works in investment banking for a con artist living on the streets. It says a lot about self-worth and character throughout the comedy when the antagonists treat people like commodities. Pretty funny for a film considered to be a Christmas comedy released in July.

Screenshot of Paramount Pictures Trading Places (1983). Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthorpe III scheme revealed.

Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)

It’s not a great movie but it is stylistically 90’s. This film may talk a lot about corporate greed but it also is about political corruption, social class, racism, media exploitation and vanity from the 1980s. The plot is about a rich white woman driving alongside her rich and influential Wall street stock trader boyfriend runs over a black teenager and a spectacle ensues. There’s a lot of layers in this film yet very shallow when watching it.

Screenshot of Warner Bros. Pictures Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). Sherman McCoy and Maria Ruskin panic drive behind the wheel.

Oil for the Lamps of China (1935)

Some people might be more aware of this story from a Simpsons episode when Homer moves to India to run a division of nuclear energy for Mr. Burns. But instead of India, it’s China. This film is based on the 1933 novel that was made into a movie two years later of the same name by Alice Tisdale Hobart. A naive man working for an oil company is sent to a remote rural outpost in China to work with terrible management. After getting married and moving overseas, he expresses desires to modernize the other country by his employment to this company to his wife. The man sacrifices the chances of happy family life to work of a large corporation that profit off of his ideas with zero appreciation.

Screenshot of First National Pictures Oil for the Lamps of China (1935). Stephen Chase talking to Hester Adams Chase.

Michael Clayton (2007)

This film is a thriller about attorney and fixer of a powerful law New York firm, Michael Clayton, coping with his colleague’s mental breakdown and the corruption around the major client being sued for toxicity over agrochemicals from their company being carcinogenic.

Screenshot of Warner Bros. Pictures Michael Clayton (2007). Michael Clayton in a police station. Associated with the “I Am Shiva, the God of Death” scene.

The Company Men (2010)

Salary men are faced with downsizing amid the recession and must adjust with the sudden loss of income and lifestyle their jobs provided by downsizing themselves. The recession from the early 2000s is represented with poignancy and heart from people in the terrible position of sudden unemployment during hard times.

Screenshot of Spring Creek Productions The Company Men (2010). Phil Woodward standing in an empty office that suffered through downsizing.

Boiler Room (2000)

A college dropout gets employment in a brokerage firm after running a small-time unlicensed casino near his former school. The brokerage company is just a get rich quick Ponzi scheme by telemarketing penny stocks of expired and fake companies to investors at inflated prices. The money of the investor is lost at their expense. This film has a memorable quote from Jim Young (Ben Affleck) in the boiler room a.k.a the sales floor.

Screenshot of New Line Cinema Boiler Room (2000). Chris Varick celebrating a good sale.

The Insider (1999)

This was inspired on a true story from a Vanity Fair article “The Man Who Knew Too Much” about Jeffrey Wigand conversing personal accounts of the bad dealings of the tobacco industry and company, Brown and Williamson for a respected television news program. It’s more make-believe than accurate but a well-acted compelling drama.

Screenshot of Touchstone Pictures The Insider (1999). Jeffrey Wigland having a conversation with Lowell Bergman.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961)

A musical about the rising career of a young window cleaner to the chairman of the board. The narrator is the book telling the young worker business advice on how to get ahead in business since that’s the book he is reading how to get ahead. There’s still betrayals, corruption and nepotism in the business world portrayed but lighter than most of the other films on this list. This play has many adaptations from was a movie in the 60s and a television event in the 70s.

Screenshot of United Artists How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (1961). J. Pierrepont Finch, Jasper B. Biggley, the management and the executives discuss success after being found out his a window washer through song. Associated with the “Brotherhood of Man” scene.

5 comments on “Movies about Corporate Greed and Corruption

  1. Thank you for taking the time to put together this wonderful list.

    Like

  2. WOW! What an incredible list and also a very interesting topic choice. Some of these are incredibly dark and such great films. Many I haven’t yet seen so I will keep a look out for them.

    Like

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