Independent Lens: Season 8, Episode 22

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (13 Oct. 2005)

TV Episode  |  R  |   |  Documentary
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Corporate audio and videotapes tell the inside story of the scandal involving one company's manipulation of California's energy supply and its, and how its executives wrung a billion dollars out of the resulting crisis.



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Episode credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
John Beard ...
Herself (archive footage)
Jim Chanos ...
Dick Cheney ...
Himself (archive footage)
Carol Coale ...
Reggie Dees II ...
Young man the stripper dances in front of (as Reggie Deets II)
Joseph Dunn ...
Max Eberts ...
Peter Elkind ...
Andrew Fastow ...
David Freeman ...


Based on the best-selling book of the same name by Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, a multidimensional study of one of the biggest business scandals in American history. The chronicle takes a look at one of the greatest corporate disasters in history, in which top executives from the 7th largest company in this country walked away with over one billion dollars, leaving investors and employees with nothing. The film features insider accounts and rare corporate audio and video tapes that reveal colossal personal excesses of the Enron hierarchy and the utter moral vacuum that posed as corporate philosophy. The human drama that unfolds within Enron's walls resembles a Greek tragedy and produces a domino effect that could shape the face of our economy and ethical code for years to come. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's Just Business



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some nudity | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

13 October 2005 (Australia)  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$76,639 (USA) (22 April 2005)


$4,064,421 (USA) (16 September 2005)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Among the protesters who disrupt the meeting with Jeff Skilling at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club is Marla Ruzicka, who was killed on 16 April 2005 in Iraq by a suicide bomber. She founded CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict) which worked to help the victims of the war in Iraq and she was a former Global Exchange activist. See more »


Gray Davis: [upon being asked whether the rumors that he was responsible for the black outs in California are just a plot by the Republican party to get him recalled]
Gray Davis: Hello!
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Crazy Credits

Special thanks includes "all the `Deep Throats' - you know who you are!" See more »


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Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
Written by David A. Stewart (as Dave Stewart) and Annie Lennox
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Performed by Marilyn Manson
Courtesy of Interscope Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

Why didn't anyone ask why?
22 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Yes, it is about numbers. I know that is hard for some to take. In fact, I know that some people don't want to hear about intricate financial details. That is very evident by the voting patterns here in America. But, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is more about people. The characters that led Enron to its downfall are really interesting and come across in a way that, if you weren't watching them in a documentary, you would want to watch a movie about them.

The unholy trinity of Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and Andy Fastow managed to manipulate the numbers, manipulate the stock analysts, manipulate the press, and manipulate the financial institutions to a point that is just beyond belief. The corporate motto was "Ask why." A whole lot of people outside the corporation failed to ask why, or crumbled like the White House press corps when they were getting smoke blown up their skirts.

Two things really stand out in this film besides the three people mentioned. The employees of Enron themselves for the most part didn't see the crumbling of the company because they just didn't want to add things up.

Also, this movie is rated "R" for some brief nudity and for the language of the traders handling the California energy mess. When you hear those traders who took down the California energy grid, you would agree that this film should have been rated XXX. It was just plain obscene to listen to the greed and callousness of these traders.

The bottom line is that every voter who goes to the polls in 2006 without seeing this film first is just plain irresponsible. But that is just my opinion.

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