Films That Make Greed Look Good
Mr Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Photograph by Paramount Pictures/REX Shutterstock
As Ms Gwen Guthrie sang in “Ain’t Nothing Goin’ On But The Rent”, there’s “no romance without finance”. It’s a lesson Hollywood has repeatedly taken to heart over the decades. After all, what could be a more dramatic backdrop on which to hang a morality tale or a character study in extremis than the boom and bust, bling and blow-out of the trading floor? These stories have it all: innocence corrupted, fortunes made and squandered, class As snorted, Cristal slurped – plus, not incidentally, the chance to showcase some of the world’s most beautiful people in the finest tailoring that seven-figure bonuses can buy. Here, MR PORTER cashes in its collateralised debt obligations to bring you eight of the most notable finance fables ever filmed – and the French-cuffed heroes and villains who have style liquidity to spare.
Wall Street (1987)
Mr Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Photograph by Photoshot
“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works.” With these words – his alpha manifesto, if you will – Mr Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko came to symbolise the hubris of the pre-crash junk-bond class. This didn’t stop a generation seeking to emulate his sartorial pomp, from the contrast-collar shirts to the statement suspenders (aka braces) and vivid ties. The G-word may now be firmly out of fashion, but, in an age of hedge-funders’ cashmere-hoodie mufti, a little brokerage brio is surely ripe for a comeback.
American Psycho (2000)
Mr Christian Bale in American Psycho. Photograph by Lions Gate/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection
Though some aspects of Patrick Bateman’s lifestyle haven’t worn so well – sea urchin ceviche, eggshell business cards in a raised Romalian type, affectless chainsaw massacres – his all-business wardrobe, from the subdued pinstripes to the cutaway collar shirts and bold-print ties, remains a custom-tailored primer in the art of power – if not power drill – dressing. It’s a look that, unlike so much else amid the Grand Guignol blood spatter of the novel/movie/musical, will never die.
The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Ms Melanie Griffith and Mr Tom Hanks in The Bonfire Of The Vanities. Photograph by Ronald Grant Archive
The movie version of Mr Tom Wolfe’s celebrated morality tale got little right (soft focus instead of hard-edge, a fatally miscast Mr Bruce Willis doing a jaunty Moonlighting retread). But one area in which it scored – and which the ever-put-together Mr Wolfe would surely have considered crucial – was in the Master Of The Universe weave of Mr Tom Hanks’ wardrobe, as bond trader Sherman McCoy. The “blue-grey nailhead worsted suit, custom-tailored in England… two button, single breasted, with notched lapels” and its peers at least made it to the screen intact.
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Mr James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life. Photograph by The Moviestore Collection
Five evergreen takeaways from this beloved Christmas TV staple: don’t give in to despair; appreciate the things you have; money can’t buy you happiness; each man’s life touches so many other lives; and emulate Mr James Stewart’s style. If you can sport a stoically angled fedora and above-reproach double-breasted herringbone topcoat, then you too, like George Bailey, will be the richest man in town, at least in terms of style.
Trading Places (1983)
From left: Messrs Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. Photograph by Moviestore Collection/REX Shutterstock
“One minute you’re up half a million in soybeans and the next, boom, your kids don’t go to college and they’ve repossessed your Bentley.” Mr John Landis’ comedy borrows the Prince And The Pauper plotline to illustrate the vicissitudes of the trading floor, with Mr Dan Aykroyd’s broker and Mr Eddie Murphy’s conman swapping lives. Mr Murphy, never better, inhabits Mr Aykroyd’s Yale Club suits and on-the-money shearling-collared overcoats with clothes-maketh-the-man zip. The movie’s other major sartorial lesson? Think twice before donning a gorilla suit.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Mr Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street. Photograph by Paramount Pictures/Photoshot
As Mr Jordan Belfort, Mr Leonardo DiCaprio makes his own Rake’s Progress through the echelons of lupine high finance, with all the appropriate signifiers attached – unstructured boxy jackets as a mid-1980s greenhorn, fitted gangster chalkstripes as a helicopter-downing, dwarf-tossing playa. But it’s his off-duty cruising outfit that merits particular attention: spotless ivory polo shirt and pleated cream chinos, off-white loafers, Swiss watch, Wayfarers and glass of Cheval Blanc. As he says: “When you’re sailing a boat built for a Bond villain, you’ve got to play the part.”
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
Mr Gary Cooper and Ms Jean Arthur in Mr Deeds Goes To Town. Photograph by Everett Collection/REX Shutterstock
As Longfellow Deeds, the tuba-playing, versifying small-town hick who inherits a $20m windfall (“that’s…quite a lot, i’n’t it?”), Mr Gary Cooper disarms the city slickers with his homespun charm, wearing his newly minted bespoke finery with a winning insouciance (particularly when sliding down his townhouse banister) and capturing the heart of Ms Jean Arthur’s hard-bitten news reporter. But then, anyone who can carry off a leather-bomber-trilby-bow-tie combo has little to learn from metropolitan popinjays.
The Big Short (2015)
Mr Ryan Gosling in The Big Short. Photograph by 2015 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved
From Mr Christian Bale’s baggy cargo shorts and bare feet to Mr Steve Carell’s various iterations of greige, the characters in Mr Adam McKay’s laughter-in-the-dark comedy about the 2008 crash are sartorial as well as financial outliers. It’s left to Mr Ryan Gosling – too big to fail in terms of style, perhaps – to carry the day as a big-talking Deutsche Bank trader whose trust in his own cool is validated both by his Gekko-lite combos of subtly checked silk suits and contrast-collar shirts, and an eventual $47m payday. We are not, however, endorsing his Tango tan.