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Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 20 May 2005 (USA)
A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall.



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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
John Beard ...
Himself - Former Enron Accountant
Tim Belden ...
Himself (archive footage)
Herself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Jim Chanos ...
Himself - President, Kynikos Associates
Dick Cheney ...
Himself (archive footage)
Carol Coale ...
Herself - Ex-Stock Analyst, Prudential Securities
Himself - Former Governor of California
Reggie Dees II ...
Himself - Young man the stripper dances in front of (as Reggie Deets II)
Joseph Dunn ...
Himself - California State Senator
Max Eberts ...
Himself - Former Spokesman, Enron Energy Services
Peter Elkind ...
Himself - Co-Author, 'The Smartest Guys in the Room'
Andrew Fastow ...
Himself (archive footage)


Enron dives from the seventh largest US company to bankruptcy in less than a year in this tale told chronologically. The emphasis is on human drama, from suicide to 20,000 people sacked: the personalities of Ken Lay (with Falwellesque rectitude), Jeff Skilling (he of big ideas), Lou Pai (gone with $250 M), and Andy Fastow (the dark prince) dominate. Along the way, we watch Enron game California's deregulated electricity market, get a free pass from Arthur Andersen (which okays the dubious mark-to-market accounting), use greed to manipulate banks and brokerages (Merrill Lynch fires the analyst who questions Enron's rise), and hear from both Presidents Bush what great guys these are. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's just business. See more »




Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

20 May 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Magic  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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 »


Kenneth Lay: [Q&A session with employees] All right, we are down to questions. And I got a few up here.
[reads question from the floor]
Kenneth Lay: 'I would like to know if you are on crack, if so that would explain a lot. If not, you may want to start because it's going to be a long time before we trust you again.'
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Featured in 2006 Independent Spirit Awards (2006) See more »


Written by Flea, John Frusciante, Anthony Kiedis and Chad Smith
Moebetoblame Music
Performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records, Inc.
By Arrangement with Warner Strategic Marketing
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User Reviews

Even more chilling now
17 February 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Enron was the US energy company that "Fortune" named as "America's Most Innovative Company" for six consecutive years and, at its height, it employed 22,000 people and claimed revenues of around $100 billion. It went bankrupt at the end of 2001 and this documentary was released in 2005, but I did not see it until four years later. By then, we had experienced 'the end of capitalism as we've known it' and the most serious collapse in financial markets since the Wall Street Crash. What Enron and the wider market crash have in common is the murky world of derivatives, an excessive exuberance for risk, and simple avarice and hubris, while the mother and father of both crises are deregulation.

Alex Gibney co-wrote, co-produced and directed this work which, though occasionally complex, is compelling viewing and a lesson to us all on corporate greed and regulatory failure. Interviews with key observers and extracts from Congressional hearings are linked by a narration from Peter Coyote. The heroines of the story are Bethany McLean, the financial journalist who first questioned the valuation of Enron, and Sherron Watkins, the senior manager who blew the whistle on the company. The villains are a long list of men headed by Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay and Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling. Maybe there is a gender lesson here as well - as many financial and political ones.

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