Despite screening only a couple of decades ago, some of these 80s film depictions of “big business” seem incredibly outdated, not to mention borderline offensive. But they’re always little pockets of blow-dried joy… Let’s see how the 80s did business.
1) Big Business (1988)
Things in the workplace have really changed since the 80s: There are more women, smoking is done exclusively outdoors and shoulder pads have shrunk to manageable proportions. One thing that hasn’t changed? Stress eating, which explains why our desks are decorated with an inexplicable assortment of foods about 90 per cent of the time…
2) Repo Man (1984)
Have you ever heard anyone aspiring to become a repo agent? We haven’t either. But judging from this scene, it doesn’t look so bad – free beer, colourful characters, great jokes (particularly at 1:18) and collective team cheering. And just in case you’ve found your calling, here’s a wiki on How to Start a Repossession Business.
3) Scarface (1983)
Tony Montana (Al Pacino) is an unsung business hero for two reasons: 1) Believe it or not, scrutinising his leadership and organisational management abilities is a course requirement for some university business programmes 2) Name one business person who can hold the attention of their colleagues while sporting a half-buttoned shirt, gaudy necklaces and referring to competitors as “cockcroaches”… Warning – contains a few swears.
4) Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places is a film about how a snobbish commodities broker and homeless con man (Eddie Murphy) end up – wait for it – trading places. Wouldn’t it be great if all of our work mistakes were met with a $15,000 profit and a trio of white-haired men laughing heartily until it went away?
5) Wall Street (1987)
First thing’s first – the last time we saw someone don an over-gelled ‘do was when we stumbled across this Jersey Shore trailer. To think that rock-hard hair was a norm amongst corporate big shots is slightly mind-bending, but not as mind-bending as how dignified Charlie “Winning” Sheen looks in this scene.
And how eerily accurate is Gordon Gekko’s (Michael Douglas’) spiel on wealth distribution?
6) The Secret of my Succe$s (1987)
It’s not the comedy cliché of walking-in-on-someone-half-naked or the awkward conversation that followed that’s laugh-worthy, but the fact that Brantley Foster’s (Michael J. Fox’s) secretary responded with a “yes, sir” – did that really happen?
Also, remember the time when paper folders, handwriting, poster boards, coloured push pins and pencils played a semi-important role in the workplace? Nor do we.
7) Tucker, the man and his dream (1988)
At first, you might think this scene is from a historical presidential film – wrong. It’s an automotive industry gathering in 1940s America… and it seems like a ball. Yes, some gory photos are displayed but it’s outraging that not even one man at that table is showing appreciation for the decadent food, designated servers or decked out dining room. Essentially, a business dinner fit for Franklin D Roosevelt.
8) 9 to 5 (1980)
9 to 5 is a film about three working women (played by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton) who find a way to get even with their chauvinistic boss Franklin M. Hart (Dabney Coleman). Hart stoops to a level of sleaziness that we can’t even begin to comprehend – or so we thought – until we read about some very real current events concerning gender, tech and the internet…
Then we imagined Jodie Foster holding a gun and the rage subsided.
9) The Coca-Cola Kid (1985)
Actually, Becker (Eric Roberts), what we’re really asking ourselves is: Why didn’t the term “Jesuit hierarchy” – for senior management – not catch on in today’s business world? Was it really acceptable for a brash marketing executive to tell colleagues where their feet belonged during a meeting?
Also: Did people in the 80s seriously think Coca-Cola was “the miracle of America”?
10) Working Girl (1988)
The hair! Let’s talk about the hair… After thoroughly examining this clip, we’ve come to the conclusion that the recipe for perfect 80s hair is: 1/2 mullet, 1/4 crimping, 1/4 massive bangs (ensure that they stand at least half a foot above your head) and a whole of lot of head-flailing and hairspray. Extra tip: if you’re feeling really spicy, hang some dangly earrings off the left side of your head (refer to 1:32).
What are your favourite 80s business movies/scenes? Let us know in the comments below…