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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

List: Movies About Corporate Governance

posted by Nell Minow

The New York Times interviewed me for its “Corner Office” section and asked me for a list of my favorite movies about corporate governance.

“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” (2005). Must viewing for an almost operatic rise-and-fall story of greed and hubris.

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“The Solid Gold Cadillac” (1956). Add a couple of zeros to the numbers and this classic comedy about a small shareholder who takes on a big conglomerate could have been filmed this year. Ripe for a remake!

“The Hudsucker Proxy” (1994). The Coen Brothers’ take on corporations is both spoof and satire, making some shrewd points about success and corruption.

“Roger & Me” (1989). Must viewing in the era of the bailout. Watch for the many indicators of poor business judgment, including a “Me and My Buddy” exhibit with a mechanized worker singing to the machine that put him out of a job.

“Startup.com” (2001). The go-go madness of the dot-com era amplifies the challenge of finding that fine line between vision and hubris. Unforgettable characters.

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“Boiler Room” (2000). Set in an illegal pump-and-dump brokerage, this movie perfectly captures the adrenaline rush of money-making.

“Executive Suite” (1954). A rare movie that focuses on the boardroom with a post-World War II C.E.O. succession struggle between the green-eyeshade C.F.O. Fredric March and the stakeholder proponent William Holden. See also the terrific animated movie “Robots” (2005) for a similar struggle.

“Owning Mahowny” (2003). This fact-based film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a Canadian bank executive who embezzled millions of dollars and lost every penny in gambling casinos. What is fascinating is the way that every single person in the film, from the bank loan officers to the auditors and investigators and casino managers to the embezzler himself, are constantly assessing risk.

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“The Corporation” (2003). A provocative documentary that measures corporate behavior against the standard diagnostics for human behavior and concludes that it fits the profile of a sociopath.

“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” (1967). This outrageous musical comedy about a mail clerk’s rise to the top of a corporation is less of an exaggeration than it appears.

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“Office Space” (1999). A cult classic about a Dilbert-ized world of workers oppressed by an endless series of management fads.

“Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (1988). A fact-based cautionary tale about corporations subverting the market. See also the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (2006) for an updated version.

“Sabrina” (1954). This elegant confection of a love triangle, with Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, also includes one of the most stirring defenses of the public corporation as a force for opportunity and creativity that has ever been put on film.

  • Your Name

    great choices — ‘How To Succeed’ gets more timely as the years go on — I’ve always thought ‘The Apartment’ was a good satire of corporate life. That never seems to age either…

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    “The Apartment” is one of the all-time greats — thanks for the addition!

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