IN THE ’80S, WALL STREET HAD FUN AT YOUR EXPENSE. NOW IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO HAVE THE LAST LAUGH.
The wheeling and dealing at the Wall Street stock market in the late ‘80s was expertly depicted in this TV movie about F. Ross Johnson. The famed CEO’s leveraged-buyout scheme for RJR Nabisco, a company that produced cookies as well as cigarettes, resulted in a bidding war that shook the financial markets. Writer Larry Gelbart’s sense of humor helps (the smokeless cigarette is a hoot); it’s a complicated story, but the dialogue is sharp and everything has been done to make sure that the film is both credible and entertaining. James Garner is brilliant in the lead; he definitively could have gone overboard but his portrayal of the tycoon is great fun to watch.
1993-U.S. Made for TV. 107 min. Color. Produced by Thomas M. Hammel. Directed by Glenn Jordan. Teleplay: Larry Gelbart. Novel: Bryan Burrough, John Helyar. Cast: James Garner (F. Ross Johnson), Jonathan Pryce (Henry Kravis), Peter Riegert (Peter Cohen), Joanna Cassidy, Fred Dalton Thompson, Leilani Ferrer.
Emmy: Outstanding Made for TV Movie. Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture Made for TV, Actor (Garner).
Last word: “‘Barbarians at the Gate’ is a good piece of work. It just proved to me my own axiom of ‘Always take on something you don’t think you can do.’ Always be afraid of the source material. I was afraid of that because I can’t make change of two fives for ten – or is it three fives for ten – and I had to learn what that was about before I could write it. I was very pleased with how it turned out.” (Gelbart, IGN)