Grab your metaphorical purse/wallet/man bag and prepare to shell out your hard-earned spare time on our list of the 25 best money movies ever. You can keep the change.
Wall Street (1987)
Oliver Stone’s classic made us jealous of ‘80s Manhattan excess while teaching us that “greed is good” and Michael Douglas is the devil – sort of. Douglas plays Gordon Gekko who corrupts the young Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) to his insider trading ways. In the blue corner we have Bud’s blue-collar dad Carl but luckily Stone just about avoids too much moralising against capitalism. And anyway, the oily, charismatic Gekko became an instant Wall Street and City icon.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
This corruption-infused flick unravels the true story behind the 2001 collapse of the infamous American Enron Corporation, whose dodgy offshore accounts, brutal work environment and botched accounts resulted in a spectacular example of how not to do business.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Humphrey Bogart stars as a greed-fuelled gold prospector in this classic American movie which sees three men corrupted by the allure of everyone’s favourite yellow shiny metal. Dealing with greed and paranoia among your companions is hard enough, but throw a roaming Mexican into the equation and you’re definitely not going to have an easy time.
There’s a child called Damian. He’s a bit, well, different. Ring any bells? In fact, Danny Boyle’s protagonist (played by Alex Etel) is bizarrely obsessed with saints, using his hallucinogenic imagination to chat to them and get advice about life. Millions begs the question: what would Jesus do if he found a suitcase full of bank notes that had been jettisoned from a train?
The Firm (1993)
Tom Cruise is a promising young lawyer who signs up to work for the eponymous firm, for an offer he can’t refuse. Showered in money and gifts including a new house and shiny car, everything seems to be going well until a pair of his associates are murdered. That’s when the FBI steps in and Cruise has to rat out his employers or face prison. We’d rather leave the shiny car and have a stress-free desk job, thanks.
Rogue Trader (1999)
Rogue Trader follows the true story of Nick Leeson (Ewan McGregor), a rogue trader working for Barings Bank in Singapore. Leeson racked up debts worth over a billion dollars while reporting significant profits to head office in London. Having bankrupted the organisation, Leeson did what any sensible person would do: run. When he ended up in prison, he wrote Rogue Trader, the autobiography on which this film is based.
Citizen Kane (1941)
When newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane dies, a reporter tries to unravel the mystery of his last word: “Rosebud.” Orson Welles’ film debut – made when he was just 25 – pioneered new techniques in directing and showcased a bravura performance from a young Welles in the title role. But it also enraged real-life publisher William Randolph Hearst, who believed that Kane was based on him. Hearst’s efforts to suppress Citizen Kane meant that the movie only became recognised for the classic it is many years later.
Money Train (1995)
Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson play foster brother cops who’ve been practising their synchronised punching in this comedy action flick plotted around a robbery on the New York subway’s money train. J-Lo turns up in the female lead, but it’s the brothers’ fast-talking repartee that keeps Money Train on the rails.
The Money Pit (1986)
Tom Hanks and Shelley Long play a young couple who buy a dream home for a steal. Unluckily for them, it turns out to be a collapsing pile, with Hanks serving up an increasingly hysterical performance as the house falls apart around them in slapstick fashion.
The Sting (1973)
Conmen Johnny Hooker and Henry Gondorff (Robert Redford and Paul Newman) team up to take down vicious mobster Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) in this classic crime caper. Redford and Newman rekindle the chemistry they bought to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, while director George Roy Hill delights in piling twist upon twist until even the audience is bamboozled.
The Corporation (2003)
This slightly over-earnest Canadian documentary is high on wrath for the structure of the corporate world, but low on solutions. Its central argument – that corporations mimic psychopathic Nazi sympathizers in a ruthless bid for cash (well, almost) – is staggeringly laboured, but it’s a must-watch for the conspiracy theory crowd. Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore and Naomi “No Logo” Klein are among the talking heads.
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
Stanley Kramer’s caper movie sees Sid Caesar, Jonathan Winters, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett and Milton Berle trying to track down $350,000 buried near the Mexican border while police detective Spencer Tracy tails them. It’s a monument to comedic excess, as a succession of comedy stars parade across the gigantic Cinerama-format screen. Bloated it may be, but the sheer number of comedians packed into its 210 minutes guarantees you’ll laugh somewhere.
The Counterfeiters (2007)
If you still don’t understand why we can’t just print more money, watch The Counterfeiters. Based on the memoir of a Jewish typographer who was forced into forging money in a concentration camp, this German film centres around a secret Nazi plan to circulate tons of fake Bank of England bank notes in the UK during the Second World War. The morals are as tricky as they get in this tense, but tough, film.
Mr Deeds Goes To Town (1936)
Frank “It’s a Wonderful Life” Capra has another crack at restoring our faith in humanity in this black and white screwball comedy about Longfellow Deeds (Gary Cooper) – a small town businessman, tuba player and greeting card poet who finds himself inheriting US$20m from a dead uncle. In the way of kicking back and enjoying his riches are a scheming lawyer, a pretty undercover journalist (Jean Arthur) and a crazy, gun-toting farmer.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
As uplifting as they come, Slumdog Millionaire is the story of an orphan who grows up in the Mumbai slums and goes on to make an appearance on India’s version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. In homage to its country of setting, there’s an appearance by Indian megastar Amitabh “The Big B” Bachchan while a proper Bollywood dance-off makes a fitting finale.
American Psycho (2000)
Who knew, when Christian Bale played this banking executive mental case, he wasn’t actually acting that much. The Genesis-loving Patrick Bateman – a wealth and image-obsessed banker by day – murders so secretly and efficiently it’s hard not to be a little unsettled by this film. Especially when he lobs a chainsaw down a staircase onto a girl’s head.
Brewster’s Millions (1985)
Imagine how you’d spend US$30 million in 30 days. That’s the madcap challenge facing Richard Pryor in Brewster’s Millions. If Brewster spends the money in time he can inherit his full US$300 million, but until then he can’t tell anyone why he’s spending so madly. John Candy helps out with the laughs.
Scorsese and De Niro teamed up for one last mob-inspired fling on Casino. And the Mean Streets and Goodfellas director pulled out some of his most viscerally violent scenes and stamped the final (slightly overlong) cut with a Stones-heavy soundtrack. The Las Vegas inhabited by De Niro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone makes The Hangover look like a camping weekend with your gran.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Four estate agents are led into a professional sales endgame in which only two can leave with their jobs in this money-centric film noted for its profanity-laden script (adapted from David Mamet’s 1984 play of the same name). Despite unimpressive box office on release, strong performances garnered industry plaudits. Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey and Ed Harris star.
Indecent Proposal (1993)
Billionaire John Gage (Robert Redford) empties his wallet to the tune of a million bucks to help married childhood sweethearts David (Woody Harrelson) and Diana (Demi Moore) out of their money woes. The caveat – and titular indecent proposal – is that Gage gets to bed Diana for a night. But the Gage’s plan runs thicker than a one-night stand. Despite shoddy reviews and wooden acting, Indecent Proposal is still compelling viewing.
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Two quotes from Jerry Maguire have entered mainstream culture. One is Renée Zellweger’s schmaltzy “You had me at hello.” The other is the reason Cameron Crowe’s sports agent flick makes this list. If you don’t know what “Show me the money!” means, you need to head over to YouTube and let Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr show you what a tough client pitch looks like.
Richie Rich (1994)
Richie Rich is the richest kid in the world, played by (at the time) the cutest kid in the world. As the old saying goes, money can’t buy you love and despite having his own McDonalds, human catapult and rollercoaster, poor Richie Rich doesn’t have any friends (awww). All it takes is an evil plot to wipe out the Rich family for little Rich to realise he can have it all – good friends and the life of Riley.
Trading Places (1983)
Mortimer and Randolph Duke, a couple of filthy rich commodities brokers, wager a bet to switch the lives of two people at the opposite ends of the social spectrum – the well-mannered and educated Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), a broke street hustler. While Winthorpe is cast out as a thief and drug abuser, Valentine is handed the high life on a silver platter. What’s the best way to hurt rich people? Make them poor. And that’s exactly how Winthorpe and Valentine seek their revenge.
Office Space (1999)
Fed up of being a cubicle slave at Intech Corporation, Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingstone) decides to visit an occupational hypnotherapist to relieve work stress. Unbeknown to him, his therapist dies while he’s under hypnosis leaving him with a relaxed outlook on life, which serves to help him climb the corporate ladder. When he discovers his mates have been fired, they conjure up a plan to plant a virus in the system in order to embezzle money. What could go wrong?
Proof that even braniacs just want more dough, 21 is an entertaining Vegas drama in which MIT students are led astray by their Professor (Kevin Spacey) into some card counting shenanigans. We don’t know about you but last time we played Blackjack we couldn’t even count how much money we had left, never mind exactly which cards had been laid down. It’s Ocean’s Eleven with more IQ points and less facial hair.
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