By Ann Silverthorn
Shoulder pads and three-piece suits. Multi-tasking and networking. Yuppies. Business people were trying desperately to get ahead in the 1980s, but the economy wasn’t cooperating. The decade had begun in the grips of double-digit inflation. This was followed by a recession and then a significant stock-market crash. Quite a few movies released during those years told stories related to big business. Here are seven business-themed titles from the 1980s that portray the frenzied era.
Michael Douglas won the Best Actor Oscar in 1988 for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko, an unscrupulous businessman who teaches young Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) the fine “art” of insider trading. For a while Fox enjoys the attention, but he soon realizes that his mentor is only out for himself.
Young Brantley Foster (Michael J. Fox) is given the opportunity to work his way up the corporate ladder by starting in the mail room. Foster has a better idea, though, one that will get him to the top much, much faster. He thinks by posing as an executive, he can determine his future, but, of course, there will be consequences.
Unscrupulous brothers who own a brokerage firm have a discussion about nature vs. nurture and decide to conduct an experiment by destroying a loyal executive’s career and replacing him with a street hustler. The two victims (Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd) find out about the plot and band together to turn the tables on the brothers.
When a young secretary at a brokerage firm (Melanie Griffith) tries to break out of her clerical role by impressing her boss (Sigourney Weaver), she discovers that the boss has claimed her ideas as her own. She has a choice: Stay in the background like a good, little minion or take advantage of the opportunity to prove her worth.
Based on the true story of Preston Tucker, who designed a better, safer automobile after World War II, this movie is about his quest to put the car into production. When Tucker (Jeff Bridges) starts raising money from enthusiastic investors to build a factory, the automobile industry springs into action to shut him down.
Michael Keaton stars in this comedy about the takeover of an American auto plant by new Japanese owners. His character, Hunt Stevenson, is hailed as a hero for convincing the new owners to keep the plant open, but this comes with a price in the form of lower wages and a clash of cultures and business ethics.
In an odd sequence of events, two sets of identical twins are born in a small, rural hospital and one of each twin is switched. The parents are unaware of the blunder and raise the girls, thinking they are fraternal twins. One family is poor, and another owns a large factory in the city. Forty years later, the twins’ paths cross when the family factory is set to be sold. Starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin.