Movies are big business, and, sometimes, they actually are about business. Over the next five days, I’ll review what I believe are 25 of the best business movies ever made. Some of them I studied in business school and others I’ve grown to love on their own accord. Not all of these films focus directly on corporate life. Some of the best of them more subtly touch on the art of sales and negotiations.
If you feel like we left any off the list that deserve a mention, please leave us a comment below or drop me a line at [email protected]
25. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger
Directed by Cameron Crowe
What it’s about: Sports agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) eats a bad slice of pizza and has an epiphany. He decides he no longer wants to be the biggest, baddest agent in sports. From now on, he wants to build personal relationships with his star athletes. This new idea gets him fired, but it helps him develop a conscience and a moral center.
Why watch it: It’s a movie of big moments, from Cuba Gooding Jr.’s exuberant dancing to Cruise’s lofty speeches to Renee Zellweger’s bittersweet declarations.
Business takeaway: Customer first even if it means turning away some business. Keeping those A-list clients feeling A-list is of utmost importance.
Memorable scene: Rod Tidwell (Gooding Jr.) prancing and dancing and cajoling Maguire into chanting the mantra “show me the money!”
Rod Tidwell: Show me the money!
Jerry Maguire: You complete me.
Dorothy: You had me at “hello.”
Dicky Fox: The key to this business is personal relationships.
Jerry Maguire: I am out here for you. You don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU. It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about, OK?
Up next: Nine to Five
24. Nine to Five (1980)
Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Dabney Coleman
Directed by Colin Higgins
What it’s about: Frank Hart (Dabney Coleman) is a bad boss with a capital B. He’s a liar, a thief and a sexual harasser before that term hit the mainstream. Finally, fed up with his shenanigans, three of his female employees plan a counterstrike.
Why watch it: Dabney Coleman is pitch perfect in this dastardly role, in which he comes across like one of those silent film bad guys with the curled up mustaches and innate evilness that leaves audiences cheering for his comeuppance.
Business takeaway: If you come up with a new idea at your company, make sure you get the credit for it.
Memorable scene: Where the three ladies — Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin — kidnap Mr. Hart in his home.
Violet: What could we use to keep Hart quiet?
Violet: Blackmail, oh that sounds good! What could we get on him…?
Judy: A sex scandal! Take a picture of him in bed with a prositute.
Doralee: No, who’d care?
Violet: Yeah, Hart would just buy up all the copies and then distribute them as Christmas cards.
Up next: Mildred Pierce
23. Mildred Pierce (1945)
Starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth
Directed by Michael Curtiz
What it’s about: Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) is an anomaly in the ’40s — a fiercely independent single mother who builds an empire of restaurants. She sacrifices her own happiness for a daughter (Ann Blyth) who has a nasty selfish streak, and for men who are after her money.