Glenn Kenny
May 17, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Wall Street

Current Status
In Season
Michael Douglas, Daryl Hannah, Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen
Oliver Stone

We gave it a B-

If there’s a premier film orator today, though, it’s son of Spartacus Michael Douglas, who gets to show off his public speaking skills to great effect in The American President. Though he’s more often squared his familiar jaw against all manner of femmes fatales (Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, Demi Moore in Disclosure), the actor has also had some prominent monologic moments.

Three words will serve as succinct evidence: ”Greed is good.” In Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, a movie that loses more stock as the years go by, Douglas’ address at a shareholders’ meeting still holds up as a great alignment of writing and acting. Of course, the movie’s audience isn’t supposed to agree with the demonic logic by which Douglas’ financial Mephistopheles, Gordon Gekko, advances his argument. Director-cowriter Stone means the speech as a summation of everything wrong with Reagan-era corporate piracy. But Douglas puts his character’s ideas across with such seductive self-assurance that conservatives could easily ignore the irony of the scene and proclaim, Now, there was a guy with a lot on the ball. B-

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