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review added: 1/26/01



Wall Street

review by Brian Ford Sullivan of The Digital Bits

The Films of Oliver Stone on DVD


Wall Street (Warner Stone Collection)

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs


Wall Street
1987 (2001) - 20th Century Fox (Warner)

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): D+/C/A-

Specs and Features:

128 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:45:20, at the start of chapter 16), Snapper case packaging, audio commentary by director Oliver Stone, Money Never Sleeps documentary by Charles Kiselyak, 2 theatrical trailers, animated film-themed manus with music, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0 Mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Closed Captioned



Wall Street (Fox original)

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Wall Street
1987 (2000) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): D+/C/A-

Specs and Features:

128 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:45:20, at the start of chapter 16), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary by director Oliver Stone, Money Never Sleeps documentary by Charles Kiselyak, 2 theatrical trailers, animated film-themed manus with music, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0) and French (DD 2.0 Mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Closed Captioned



"Greed is good."

Three words inspired a generation of men to wear suits and ties, and wrestle with the bulls and bears in the stock market. It goes without saying that Oliver Stone's Wall Street is much more than a film. It's a virtual buffet of philosophy and subtext, that is almost impossible to digest with one viewing. It's a film about fathers and sons, sex and style, truth and lies and, of course, money and power.

Charlie Sheen (straight off his performance in Stone's Platoon) plays Bud Fox, a New York City stockbroker stuck in the rut of cold calling potential clients like many of his co-workers. But Fox sees an opportunity when he manages to worm his way into five minutes with "the elephant" himself, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas, who would go on to win an Oscar for his role). As Fox tells himself, "Life comes down to a few moments. This is one of them." Fox unfortunately crashes and burns in front of Gekko, but manages to peak his interest with a last minute act of desperation - a revelation that he has insider information on his father's airline company. This appeals to Gekko for obvious reasons, but it also lets him know that this is a man who's willing to do anything to get ahead. And so begins Fox and Gekko's Faustian relationship.

But Gekko's not satisfied with the information given to him, so Fox must continue to do clandestine deeds to stay in his's favor - everything from calling in favors from old college friends to buying his own cleaning company so he can copy confidential documents. Fox's decent into the darker side of money-making builds and builds. On the opposite end of things is Fox's father, (played by his real-life father Martin Sheen) who looks down on his son's need to run off and make money. And somewhere in the middle is a sage-like mentor (played by Hal Holbrook), who acts as almost a Greek chorus to Fox's troubles. All three of these characters play heavily into Fox's battle for himself. Also thrown into the mix is Darryl Hannah (as an interior decorator with expensive tastes that catches Fox's eye), as well as some great character work by Terrence Stamp, John C. McGinley and James Spader.

While it's easy to call Wall Street a business film, it becomes apparent early on that it's so much more. Beyond the father-son relationships that dominate the film, there's also a commentary on the emptiness of corporate culture of the 1980s, and an examination of what drives men to get ahead (and price they pay to do so). I can't tell you enough how many thoughts go through my head each time I watch this film. It's an amazing thing to say that 128 minutes of film can define a decade, but such is the case here.

So... on to the disc. One note I should make right off is that both the Fox release and the new Warner Oliver Stone Collection edition are the identical disc (the Warner version just features new Snapper packaging). So from here on out, when I refer to the disc, my comments apply to either release.

The anamorphic widescreen video transfer on this DVD is surprising, but not in a particularly good way. First, there's a lot of grain and age-related artifacts (dust, scratches, etc...) visible on the print. Even worse, the transfer itself is very, very dark. It's also a little too warm-looking and faded in occasional outdoor scenes - probably a stylistic choice but it makes it difficult to assess color timing accuracy. Overall, the video is soft and not especially pleasing to the eye. Considering what a megalomaniac Stone has a reputation for being, it's amazing that he let this film receive the treatment it has. Don't expect more from the sound either. Despite its Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, this disc sounds very flat (almost mono in parts) and generally has a muddy quality to it. Certainly, that isn't a huge problem, given how dialogue-heavy the film is. Just don't go in looking to give your home theatre a workout.

In the supplements category, the disc features an audio commentary by Stone, which is just as in-depth and engrossing as you'd expect from a filmmaker like him. Stone spends most of the time discussing his relationship with his own father (a stockbroker), and how Fox's three "fathers" in the film (Douglas, Sheen, Holbrook) each featured different aspects of his father's personality. Stone also spends a great deal of time deconstructing the actors' performances, which includes some surprisingly harsh words about Darryl Hannah. He also reveals that he initially wanted Warren Beatty and Richard Gere in the film (as Gekko and Fox) - can you imagine? Stone even finds time to talk about last year's Boiler Room (which Wall Street heavily influenced) and drops a few tidbits about his other films as well, including Any Given Sunday. All in all, the track is a great listen. Stone certainly comes across as arrogant (and even bullheaded) in parts, but you can't help but be drawn in by him.

The real gem on this disc, however, is a 47 minute documentary by Charles Kiselyak, called Money Never Sleeps. It's a retrospective on the film, and features brand new interviews with Stone, Douglas and the two Sheens. Particularly interesting here is a story Douglas tells about a time when Stone literally asked Douglas, "have you ever acted before?" after viewing the first couple days worth of dailies. There's also a moving bit about how Charlie Sheen got himself to cry for the film's closing scenes. The big draw, of course, is simply seeing the actors' reactions to the cultural phenomenon the film eventually became. Naturally, Stone is in full form here - he has plenty to say about it.

Wall Street is a film that you can simply get lost in for hours at a time. No better words can describe this film. While the video and audio quality on this DVD is lacking, the extras it includes add tremendously to an already rewarding movie watching experience. It's worth a look for that reason alone.

Brian Ford Sullivan
bfsullivan@thedigitalbits.com

The Films of Oliver Stone on DVD

Wall Street (Fox original)


The Oliver Stone Collection (6-film)


The Oliver Stone Collection (10-film)


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