A Christmas Day movie about sleaze on Wall Street

 Director Martin Scorsese attends the 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 17, 2013 in New York City.

This Christmas Day will be a day to celebrate obscene wealth, moral decay and massive corruption on Wall Street. At least, according to Hollywood.

Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ opens on big screens on December 25 -- just under the wire for Oscar consideration. The black comedy stars Leonardo DiCaprio as penny-stockbroker Jordan Belfort, who went from filthy-rich to federal prison for stock fraud in the 1990s, and then wrote a memoir of the same name about it.

It’s not hard to guess from the tone of the movie trailers which stereotypes ‘The Wolf” will trade in, as one character tells Belfort to “move the money from your client’s pocket into your pocket.”  

For people in high finance, ‘The Wolf’ will be yet another reminder that Wall Street equals ‘corruption’ and ‘excess’ in the popular culture.

That’s OK, says Max Wolff. He’s a strategist and economist at ZTWealth in Manhattan.

“It jacks up people’s sense of self-importance and influence,” says Wolff. He plans to see the movie, and says his friends in finance will too. He thinks they’ll take solace in the fact that the movie is set way back in the 1990s -- not in the 2000s, of recent bubble-bust-bailout memory.

After the movie, he says, “they’ll talk endlessly to each other about how unrealistic it is, and that will be part of a bonding exercise in the industry."

Simon Rosenfeld, senior vice president at Meridian Capital Group in New York, briefly sold stocks off a script early in his career. That’s what the unscrupulous boiler-room brokers working for Jordan Belfort are depicted as doing in 'The Wolf of Wall Street," though Rosenfeld says he was never asked to do anything illegal.

Rosenfeld soon switched from stock-broking to the commercial mortgage business -- which he says would be zero-percent interesting to watch on the silver screen.

“They’re not going to choose to make a movie out of the boring mundane daily activities of what goes on in the mostly-legal world in this industry,” Rosenfeld says.

He’s also looking forward to seeing the new Scorsese flick. He says he doesn’t mind when Hollywood depicts a few colorful crooks plying their trade on Wall Street.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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