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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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Cast

Credited cast:
John Beard ...
Himself - Former Enron Accountant
Tim Belden ...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Herself (archive footage)
...
Himself (archive footage)
...
Himself - President, Kynikos Associates (as Jim Chanos)
...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Carol Coale ...
Herself - Ex-Stock Analyst, Prudential Securities
...
Narrator
...
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)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

It's just business. See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 May 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Magic  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Quotes

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.'
See more »

Connections

Features Global Addiction (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Capitalism
Written by Danny Elfman
Little Maestro Music
Performed by Oingo Boingo
Courtesy of A&M Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The biggest pyramid of them all
3 August 2007 | by See all my reviews

How did Enron become the world's largest corporate bankruptcy? A culture of greed, and fraud, coupled with an accounting system ripe for abuse, was part of it. But one also needs to understand the way that markets work (ironically, since Enron claimed to know this better than anyone else). The rise in Enron's share price had all the hallmarks of a classic pyramid scheme, whereby, if you claim to be making enough money, you can get away without proving it, because investors all want in, not out. Meanwhile, Enron bankrolled its regulators with the money it did have to stop them asking about the money it didn't. Finally, when all this was exposed, the firm was worthless, even though there had been at least some successful businesses within it, because, fundamentally, like all businesses, Enron has sold confidence and now this commodity was in very short supply; but Chief Executive Jeff Skilling's claim that "it was a classic run on the bank" is disingenuous to say the least, given that the real money that Enron did (at one time) make was earned through deliberately operating with very low reserves. 'The Smartest Guys in the Room' tells some of the story of Enron's collapse: and it's a compelling tale, although I found the use of background music rather annoying (the story is divided up into titled sections, with each section being the name of a song, which feels rather heavy-handed and obvious). But is gives a good flavour of what went on at Enron, although it doesn't go into the full details of the crooked financial transactions, and (like all the books I have read on the same subject) doesn't manage to answer the killer questions: what were, year-on-year, Enron's real profits and losses? and who knew what, when? Probably, these are impossible questions to answer: the picture that emerges is of a company where the bosses didn't want to know, everybody's job was to keep their superior happy and rich, and if you could do this, they wouldn't ask how you had managed it (or how rich you had made yourself in the process); a happy conspiracy until, eventually and inevitably, the money ran out. And as I said before, the irony is that this company that tried and failed to buck the markets was itself the high priest of market capitalism. If Enron's failure at least induces a dose of scepticism about the self-proclaimed (and invariably loaded) champions of market economics, some good at least will have emerged from what is otherwise a sorry tale.


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