The most misunderstood movie lines in history

1987’s “Wall Street” follows young stock broker Bud Fox, a promising professional who admires Wall Street magnate Gordon Gekko. Fox catches Gekko’s attention through the promise of insider trading, but as he ventures deeper into Wall Street, his decisions begin to have increasingly dangerous consequences, which leads him to seriously reassess his actions. It’s a brutal, critical exposition of the greed of 1980s capitalism, and a great film in its own right (Michael Douglas won the Best Actor Oscar in 1988 for his portrayal of greedy Gekko).

Beyond its overall notoriety, the film is also famous for an often thematically misunderstood quote. In a key scene, Gekko defends greed by stating that “The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works.”

Co-writer Stanley Weiser lamented how many times the executives thanked him because of the influence Gordon Gekko’s greed had on them. In an editorial from LA TIME 2008, Weiser pushed back on the line’s co-option, usually without context.

“Thinking back to writing the script for ‘Wall Street’, I could never have imagined that this character and his battle cry would become part of the public consciousness,” Weiser wrote. “And that the central message of ‘Wall Street’ – remember, he will eventually go to jail – would be so misunderstood by so many people.”

Quoting “Wall Street” director Oliver Stone, he said that “greed is a disappointment“and those who admire Gekko do it” for the wrong reasons. ”

Andrea G. Henderson