Something there is about a steamy summer afternoon that beckons a person into an air-conditioned theatre. There, relief—ideally—extends itself with not only a chilling call to attention for the hair on your arm, but a gripping flick about the hairy life of corporate types.
There’s a whack of truly brilliant movies about business out there, a list that dates back to Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” and Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane.”
Here’s a mixed-bag top five to get you through the next heat wave.
While not a business in the conventional sense, the cocaine dealership Johnny Depp heads up in this portrayal of infamous drug lord George Jung is wildly successful. His thriving enterprise was said to have handled eighty-five percent of the coke supply in the States in the 1970s. But it all blew up in his face when Jung was betrayed.
The Godfather (1972)
Marlon Brando famously plays the boss to end all bosses in this classic exploration of an organized crime dynasty. “Among reasonable men problems of business could always be solved,” Don Vito advises. Would-be mob patriarchs: take note.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2014)
This blockbuster explosion of the hedonist lifestyle a successful crack at the business world will buy you made huge noise when it was released. Here, Martin Scorsese tracks the rise and fall of Leonardo DiCaprio’s whim-fed life as a NY stockbroker. The movie was nominated for five Oscars, but it didn’t win a one.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
This special, endlessly entertaining movie was timeless from its launch thanks to its cutthroat attitude and the way screenwriter David Mamet pushed the pedal heavy on clever profanity. The plot follows a group of competitive, dubiously accredited, sometimes pathetic estate agent salesmen in Chicago, ever hungry for the leads that would lock in, at last, their success. Lots of highly quotable stuff here, including the popularized sales mantra “Always be closing.”
The Company Men (2011)
Ben Affleck plays a white-collar exec at an American shipping and manufacturing company who gets laid off. His descent (he loses his toys and has to move home with his parents) mirrors the plight of recession’s ravages on lives and manufacturing’s falling stature in the developed world.
To close, it’s back to “Citizen Kane” and the relentless pursuit of wealth and power that feeds its storyline. As Welles says as Charles Foster Kane, the newspaper magnate character based loosely on William Randolph Hearst: “It’s no trick to make a lot of money, if what you want to do is make a lot of money.”