1The Godfather (1972)
“Don’t ask me about my business!” – Michael Corleone (Al Pacino)
The Godfather is the story about the growth of a small family business as it becomes the largest organised crime family in New York, fighting off opposition at any expense. The Godfather and his son Michael Corleone are the brains behind the family and this film gives you an insight into what it takes to become one of the most powerful family businesses in the country.
2Citizen Kane (1941)
“You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars *next* year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in… 60 years.” – Charles Kane (Orson Welles)
No list of great films would be complete without this classic, which traces the life and times of Charles Foster Kane, a fictional newspaper tycoon based partly on William Randolf Hearst. Kane’s career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power.
3Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
“A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing” – Blake (Alec Baldwin)
This film about desperate New York real estate salesmen fighting for their jobs cuts almost too close to the bone. The film depicts two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen and how they become desperate when the corporate office sends a trainer to ‘motivate’ them by announcing that, in one week, all except the top two salesmen will be fired.
4It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Don’t you see what’s happening? Potter isn’t selling. Potter’s buying! And why? Because we’re panicking and he’s not. – George Bailey (James Stewart)
The film is about George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody. Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born.
5Office Space (1999)
“My only real motivation is not to be hassled – that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.” – Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston)
While it’s great to have a job in this economy, that doesn’t mean you should be miserable day in, day out. For fed-up officer workers who need a push to make a change, then this is it. The film satirises work life in a typical 1990s software company. Peter Gibbons is a man who hates his job and starts to increasingly slack off and do things his own way. Trouble arises when he starts stealing from the company and things go awry.
6American Gangster (2007)
“The most important thing in business is honesty, integrity, hard work, family, never forgetting where we came from. See, you are what you are in this world, that’s either one of two things: Either you’re somebody … or you’re nobody.” – Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington)
Gangster Frank Lucas manages to enslave an entire neighborhood to hard drugs. Lucas smuggled heroin into the United States on American service planes returning from the Vietnam War. Eventually he is detained by a task force lead by detective Richie Roberts. Why should entrepreneurs watch this film? Lucas was successful because he identified and exploited inefficiencies in the market and stole share from established players.
7Boiler Room (2000)
A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is gonna close? – Jim Young (Ben Affleck)
After entering the stockbroking profession to impress his father, Seth Davis, a college dropout, soon realises the huge earning potential ahead of him. But with commissions much larger than any other company, Seth soon learns that not everything is what it’s cracked up to be and he’s forced to face the dilemma of money and greed vs. morals and legality.
8Jerry Maguire (1996)
“I will not rest until I have you holding a Coke, wearing your own shoe, playing a Sega game featuring you, while singing your own song in a new commercial, starring you, broadcast during the Superbowl, in a game that you are winning, and I will not sleep until that happens. I’ll give you fifteen minutes to call me back.” – Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise)
This is a story about a man who’s at the top of his game; beautiful girlfriend, the biggest clients, lots of respect. But then he decides to step back and question it all and proposes his new thoughts to the rest of the company, which ultimately ends in him losing it all. Everyone turns his back on him, except for one, very volatile client, Rod Tidwell. From here you see Jerry examine what it really important to his business and life and works towards bringing it all back together again, only this time, the way it should be.
9Pursuit of Happyness
“You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.” – Chirstopher Gardner (Will Smith)
This is a real life story of a man who believes so badly in a product that he can’t sell that he ends up losing his house, his wife and his money, being left with just himself and his son. This in itself is an important lesson to be learnt, but it’s the steps that he takes from here that really shape him into who he becomes.
Against all odds, he takes an unpaid internship to become a stockbroker, fighting against his peers for a single job at the end of it. This is a powerful true story that sticks with you as you face your own personal struggles in business.
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