Gordon Gekko character still resonates on Wall St

Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:34pm EDT
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By Basil Katz

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Twenty-two years after appearing on the big screen, and one year after the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers, the film character Gordon Gekko continues to resonate on Wall Street.

The "strip and flip" corporate raider played by Michael Douglas will make his comeback in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street 2," which began filming in New York this week. The sequel is set in 2008 during the run-up to the financial meltdown with Gekko emerging from two decades behind bars.

Stone is bringing back the character famous for his "greed is good" mantra at a time when other titans of Wall Street have fallen from grace and the excesses of the financial industry have come under fire from the White House and an angry public.

"It is mystifying to me to see people lionize this crook who went to jail," Stanley Weiser, who co-wrote the original Wall Street with Stone, told Reuters.

Stone called it "a quintessentially American story."

"Seeing how he manages to survive in this new shark tank 22 years later is a fascinating and challenging proposition," Stone told Variety. "So much has changed. Not just Gordon Gekko. The world, too."

Bankers and analysts agree that Gekko's style of buying a company, cutting costs and jobs, and then selling for a quick profit was more a product of the 1980s. But his character has remained popular among financial professionals who saw him as a hero.

"In a certain part of Wall Street there is a gunslinger mentality," said Yves-Andre Istel, a senior adviser at Rothschild and former chairman of Wasserstein Perella and Co. International.   Continued...

<p>Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the 1987 Oliver Stone film "Wall Street". REUTERS/20th Century Fox/Handout</p>