Top ten films about money

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  • | by Rachel England

In the world of cinema, money talks, so it’s little wonder that the silver screen has consistently done a very good job of portraying “the root of all evil”. Here are our ten favourites…

Brewster’s Millions (1985)

Everybody has a lottery plan. ‘Oh,’ we say, wistfully. ‘If my numbers came up I’d buy a house and a boat and a house boat and an island and a bathtub made of chocolate’, or whatever other flights of fancy appeal. Imagine, then, coming into megabucks and being told you have 30 days to dispose of it. Easy, right? Not if you’re minor league baseball player Monty Brewster, who’s been promised a whopping $300 million if he’s able to get rid of $30 million in a month, and (here’s the kicker) he can’t have any assets to show for it, nor can he be frivolous in his spending. Flashing the cash is not as easy or fun as you’d think in this film which proves that sometimes you’re better off with what you’ve got.

Mary Poppins (1964)

Thanks to the inspirational and joyful presence of Ms Poppins, young Michael wants to do his bit for the local economy and invest his tuppence in feeding the birds outside St Paul’s Cathedral (don’t do it Michael, it’ll only encourage them). Much to everyone’s dismay his iron-fisted money-grubbing dad has other ideas and forces Michael to put his tuppence into a savings account instead. Not to worry though, as is the law of Disney, dad gets his comeuppance and everyone skips merrily into the sunset.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

Responsible for irksome catchphrase ‘Show me the money!’, Jerry Maguire tells the tale of a big shot sports agent who decides one day that his fast cars, beautiful fiancée and pots of money just aren’t enough anymore (life is hard, eh?), and that he’s going change the world for the better. He faces the usual trials and tribulations along the way, ultimately emerging a better person and showing that standing by your convictions is more valuable than material wealth.

Wall Street (1987)

In a case of life imitating art, unremitting bachelor Bud Fox (played by winner Charlie Sheen) is in pursuit of all the boys’ toys and bling he can get his mitts on, including, of course, the outrageously brick-sized technology of the 80s. But taken under the wing of scrupulous financer Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), Fox’s ambitions soon land him in a shadowy world of dodgy-dealings. Is greed as good as the film’s tagline suggests?

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Ruthless oil baron Daniel Plainview loves money and hates people. Fair enough, we all have days like that, but making empty promises and exploiting family as a cover up for merciless greed is a bit farther than most of us would go. As he stockpiles his fortune, alienates those around him and becomes increasingly isolated, the idea that money can’t buy happiness has never been more apparent.

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

Despite its title, It’s a Wonderful life is one of the most heart-wrenchingly poignant films of all time and those watching it without the tiniest lump in their throats are surely cold, emotionless robots. George Bailey is a top-notch fella who’s spent his entire life giving and helping others, even putting his lifelong dreams of travelling to one side to protect his beloved town from the icy clutches of skinflint Mr Potter. But, when he indirectly loses $8,000 and puts the whole town at risk, good-natured George thinks the world would be a better place without him and contemplates suicide, until his guardian angel appears to show him that money isn’t everything.

Boiler Room (2000)

In a tale about cautious ambition, college dropout Seth – egged on by his domineering father – takes a spot as a trainee stockbroker with the view to saving for a successful future. A bit of water-cooler flirting with love interest Abbie and a few pats on the back from hard-to-please daddy gives Seth the motivation to make the hard sales, but when he discovers his company is less than kosher, will he be able to turn a blind eye?

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

This multi-award winning heart-warmer tells the tale of a boy from the slums of Mumbai risking it all to save the lass of his dreams by appearing on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Unbeknownst to him his journey will involve more than multiple choice questions as he’s accused of cheating and subsequently interrogated and tortured. Granted, it’s a bit of a far-fetched plot but an interesting take on the idea that, as Mr Mike Skinner says, a grand don’t come for free.

Risky Business (1983)

Proving that the most ingenious entrepreneurs can get themselves out of any bind, Risky Business sees a young Tom Cruise play the role of Joel Goodson, who’s left in charge of his parents’ gaff while they’re on holiday. But, as boys will be boys, Joel ends up trashing his Dad’s beloved Porsche and has to drum up the cash to repair it quick-sharp. And he does so by turning his parents’ house into a brothel for the weekend. Obviously.

Indecent Proposal (1993)

What would you give for a million dollars? A treasured piece of jewellery? Your lovingly restored car? A much-cherished pet? How about your wife? This is the dilemma a newly-married couple find themselves in when a millionaire (oh-so selflessly) offers to help them escape from their financial nightmares. For just one night with her, a million bucks is theirs to enjoy how they wish. Of course, this only results in nightmares of another kind entirely. Provoking heated debate among viewing couples around the world, Indecent Proposal is a powerful examination of human nature and the destructive power money can wield.