After watching some great films this past week it got me thinking about movies with some kind of financial lesson. The financial side of making films has always intrigued me. This year’s Oscars were yet again proof that the biggest budget doesn’t always give the best ROI. In 2010, the lowest grossing Oscar winning film in history – The Hurt Locker – beat out the highest grossing picture in history – Avatar.
Here’s my list of the top 10 movies ever made that have a financial lesson inside of them:
6. Working Girl (1988) – Melanie Griffith plays Tess McGill. Endearing 80s film. Ultimately she takes a job as a secretary but she wants to rise in investment world. Wants to rise to power, combines her business degree from night school w/ her street smart acumen & pulls of a mega-merger. Total fantasy. Prince charming happy ending w/ Harrison Ford. “I have a head for business and a body for sex.”, says Melanie Griffith’s character. Go back to night school, go back & get a degree. Go get educated, you’ll get leverage. No one can take your education away from you.
Lessons: Your education, your smarts can’t be wiped out in a recession. Your earning power is rooted in your skills, in your education. Provides an entertaining reminder that if you have something to offer your co. & they don’t seem too interested, then take your skills elsewhere. If you are a super powerful earner at one job, you can make yourself a super powerful earner anywhere.
7. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) – Classic western cautionary tale about how not to launch a venture. If you took everything that Howard Dobbs & Kutan did in this movie: “Get rich quickly without a credible business plan.” “Badges, we don’t need no stinking badges.” Don’t swing blindly, don’t come up w/ a get rich quick scheme, don’t do a pyramid scheme, don’t sell products from your house to your friends or recruit your friends.
Lesson: In life, as in baseball, you’re gonna strike out. You don’t want to strike out blindly while your pursuing a huge home run. You gotta know your business, know your partners, know where you are in all of this.
8. Mr. Blanding Builds His Dream House (1948) – Was remade into The Money Pit, starring Tom Hanks & Shelly Long. Owning a home ain’t cheap. It can turn into a massively expensive ordeal. Home is really a money pit. Owning a home comes w/ a lot of responsibility, gotta have credit, gotta have a down payment, pay your bills, maintain the home, gotta know the risks up front. It’s expensive. You gotta know the worse case scenarios, all the risks, the downside.
Lesson: Shows how the American dream of owning a home can go terribly wrong. Home ownership is not for everybody and shouldn’t be promoted as such by the government.
9. Confessions Of A Shopaholic (2009) – About a chic who’s struggling with a debilitating obsession with shopping and has 12 maxed out credit cards. She unintentionally lands a job as a financial journalist and falls for a wealthy entrepreneur. Don’t buy a $400 watch because it quickly depreciates to nothing. I will buy a $4,000 Rolex – nothing less than a Rolex — because it can still be sold 10 yrs after you buy it for what you paid for it. You use credit to buy things of value: an education, a car to get you to work, (I prefer to buy 2-yr old used cars because it loses half its value up front when you drive it off the lot, but you can still get 50-60,000 miles out of it.)
Lesson: Only use credit for things that have value. Pay cash for everything else.
10. Brewster’s Millions (1985) – The ultimate spending spree is something that most of us have daydreamt about at some time. A minor league baseball player, Montgomery Brewster, (Richard Pryor) has to waste $30m in 30s days in order to inherit $300m; however, he’s not allowed to tell anyone about the $300m deal.
Lesson: How corruptible too much money can be and how difficult it can be to use it responsibly.