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Fictional Trading Movies

Fictional Trading Movies
F T L
2 minute read

In order of release date, here are some famous movies that involve trading, and a few tidbits about them. This lists movies that are either pure fiction or based on reality (but are not a true documentary):

Trading Places (1983). Comedy. A hustler and a broker switch places, in a social experiment. Some say it was inspired by The Turtles, taught by Richard Dennis and William Eckhardt.

Working Girl (1986). Comedy. A secretary climbs the rungs in an investment bank while her boss is away. Nominated for Best Picture.

Wall Street (1987). Drama. One of the most famous trading movies. It follows Gordon Gecko, a cutthroat corporate raider known for his “Greed is good” speech. A sequel came out in 2010 called Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Academy Award for Best Actor (Michael Douglas).

The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). Black Comedy. A successful Wall Street bond trader’s life unravels. Nominated for “anti-awards” such as the Golden Raspberry for things such as Worst Picture.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). Drama. This movie is based on a play about four real estate salesmen who are given sales leads and then put in direct competition. Only the top two traders will keep their jobs, so things get dirty. Al Pacino was nominated for an Oscar for his role in the film.

Pi (1998) Drama/Thriller. A number theorist analyses the market, and his life is changed dramatically by the insights. The first movie of famous director Darren Aronofsky.

Rogue Trader (1999). Biographical Drama. The story of Nick Leeson crashing the 200+ year old Barings Bank, through illegal “rogue trading”.

Boiler Room (2000). Drama. A college dropout goes from running an illegal casino to starting a shady boiler room…an office that cold calls people to sell stocks.

American Psycho (2000). Black comedy horror. This is a movie adaptation of a book from

1991, about a murdering Wall Street trader in the 1980s.

The Pursuit of Happiness (2006). A feel good movie about Will Smith struggling with money, then becoming an intern stockbroker.  

Too Big to Fail (2011). Documentary Drama. The story of the 2008 crisis and Lehman Brothers. Many notable financial players are included, as portrayed by famous actors.

Margin Call (2011). Drama. A story about the inside of an unnamed falling Wall Street investment bank during the subprime crisis. Won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Arbitrage (2012). Thriller Drama. A story about an older, crooked hedge fund manager played by Richard Gere.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). Biographical Black Comedy. Leonardo Dicaprio stars in this Scorsese movie about the real life criminal broker Jordan Belfort. Nominated for 5 Oscars.

The Big Short (2015). Biographical Comedy/Drama. This is a movie based on a book of the same name from 2010. It’s about traders in the subprime mortgage crisis. It won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for 4 others.

There’s a bonus one in some trader’s eyes: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This 1986 movie helped traders explain their job in the pit by referring to the scene with Ferris at the CME.

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