The purpose of this list is to find movies that show businesses in a positive light and follow good business practices, i.e. for encouraging others to follow their dreams.
Ok, there are more than 25 because I believe in giving “13” for the price of a dozen, giving more than what is bought.
Here are a list of some of the best movies to watch that I have found if you are a small business person. Sorted by “best” to “worst” in terms of good things to learn from, but not completely or thoroughly “ranked” as I’m not a film buff. Just someone that likes a good, encouraging movie. Even some of the “worst” films you can learn from, as what NOT to do or how to handle in your future. Even working for bad companies or good companies that hire bad people you can learn what is bad to do and don’t do it in your business.
Grab the popcorn and your Netflix DVD and watch these shows.
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – small town banker goes up against larger tycoon. It’s the relationships, not about the almighty dollars.
- Door to Door (2002) – True life story about Watkins Incorporated door to door salesman Bill Porter who has cerebral palsy. Both his parents never let his disability limit him and HE would not let his disability keep him from being productive in business working.
- 12 O’Clock High (1949) – required viewing by military officers and corporate leaders for leadership as well as getting results.
- Baby Boom (1987) – the story of a corporate marketing guru that left for the simple life in the Northeast US and selling organic baby food, and never returned even though an they offered her the chance. A good film following the book “Small Giants,” stay small to stay excellent.
- The Kid (2000) – story about an image consultant (Bruce Willis) who makes tons of money but is not happy with his life, but then his childhood dreams and authentic self” comes back and he leaves his PR firm to follow his dream.
- Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – while not a totally business oriented film, it does show how customer service is handled by “Santa” and other business scenes.
- Teacher’s Pet (1958) – discusses both the pros and cons of education versus real life “in the trenches” of business, especially in the newspaper world. Best scene is when Clark Gable writes a story in class for journalist professor Doris Day that does not follow all of her requirements, but gets the job done for business. Classic education versus business scene.
- Citizen Cain – (1941) – classic “business” film, voted #1 film of all time by the American Film Institute.
- The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) – Story about Chris Gardner rise from being homeless to becoming a multimillionaire.
- Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) – based on the true story of Preston Tucker, the dreamer of building a car to beat the Big Three auto makers at their game with innovation, but was forced into bankruptcy stemming from legal battles and was found innocent of all charges.
- The Devil Wears Prada (2006) – story about a fashion magazine editor and a new hire working for this demanding boss.
- Stand and Deliver (1988) – taking high school kids in the inner city in math and making them whiz kids and they move on to college.
- What Women Want (2000) – great film about a chavanistic marketer trying to understand what women want in products and the change that occurs with him.
- Other People’s Money (1991) – struggle between love and money.
- Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999) – film about Apple and Microsoft during the hayday of the beginning of the personal computer age.
- Freedom Writers (2007) – how a promising writer becomes an inner city school teacher teaching them to write about themselves while learning that the world is full of people with similar experiences, so get over it and move on, quit being a victim.
- Erin Brockovich (1988) – true story about how Brockovich takes down Energy Big Business in one of the largest court battles against a big company.
- The Aviator (2004) – movie about Howard Hughes run for the money making airplanes ultimately leaving all of his estate to Howard Hughes Medical Institute rather than succumbing to political problems.
- Barbershop (2002) – about a small barbershop and the ups and down between big business and small business and the “life” of a small business. It’s about the relationships.
- Clerks (1994) – digging into customer psychology.
- Hudsucker Proxy (1994) – inexperienced business graduate involved with a stock scam.
- Rocky (1976) – about motivation overcoming big odds. Read about what Sylfestor Stalone did about the movie in “The One Minute Millionaire” page 122 for how it went down as a business transaction.
- Patton (1970) – while the movie discusses war, business is really about “war” between multiple “enemies,” your competitors. The movie is also about leadership. What most people do not know is that both General Patton and Eisenhower were students of history and warfare, both had tens of thousands of volumes in their personal libraries. How many of today’s CEO can boast of this claim?
- Big Night (1996) – two brothers that run a restaurant in the 1950’s and the issues surrounding them.
- Mildred Pierce (1945) – using business success to gain a daughter’s love, and fails.
- In Good Company (2004) – an older advertising exec with a younger boss.
- Pretty Women (1990) – a liquidator finds breaking up businesses just for money is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
- Jerry MacGuire (1996) – struggling sports agent able to finally get success being seen as a “loser” by those in his career field.
- The Bucket List (2007) – a story about what you have not done in your life, the “shoulda” list, don’t leave this life without doing your bucket list.
- Click (2006) – the approach is one where a TV remote allows you to “fast forward” over your boring periods of your life.
- Working Girl (1988) – story about a secretary working for a boss that steals her ideas and sells them as her own.
- You’ve Got Mail (1998) – about small book store gobbled up by Big Business.
- Tin Men (1987) – story about door to door aluminum siding salesmen that will do anything to get a sale.
- Office Space (1999) – about a software programmers that are fed up with their jobs.
Other films that show business life, but in a not so good light and watch for what is bad about businesses.
- Boiler Room (2000) – story about a brokerage firm’s greed to make money, not inspiring at all, but shows what greed can do in a win for the business, lose for the customer, not a win/win ethical one that one should be strived for.
- Wall Street (1987) – again, same as Boiler Room, “greed is good” is not the way to go, but watch to see a comparison with better business practices.
- Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) – “loser” versus “winners” attitudes, but shows predatory business practices.
- The Insider (1999) – exposing tobacco company’s wrongs
On a more serious note, how about addressing other issues that affect businesses
- Maxed Out
There you have it, what I see as business movies to watch and learn from.
Anyone know of any independent films that are about businesses? Talk it up below.