Other People's Moneyi really made me reconsider Danny DeVito.
For a long time I thought, to borrow Marisa Tomei's personal ad, that he's a short, stocky, funny man. Then I actually started watching his movies. He's fucking great, to the degree that after seeing Other People's Money I'm seriously thinking he's my favourite actor.ii
Gregory Peckerhead still can't act, but at least the diminutive size of his head in Spellbound seems to have caught up with the rest of his body, fifty years later. There's a moral in this, and it goes something like "there's not much worse to be said about someone than to observe that the passage of time has actually helped them".
There's also some chick in this thing, I have no idea why they put her in. On one hand, as far as the actress goes, Kate Sullivan can barely walk. If the entire construction were an entrant in the "Antropomorphic Robots Today" competition I might have given it 7/10, but mostly to encourage the kids that worked their butt off over a summer to make a womandroid out of cork and used brakepads or whatever the hell went in there. On the other hand, as far as the character goes, Kate Sullivan wouldn't make it for five minutes. Oh, you want to meet, "strictly business" ? Fuck you, get off the line, I'm trying to make a call. What, someone's going to "fall in love" with her tired-ass 1950s petit bourgeois ideology for some reason and that'll finally make it all ok, cover all the kited checks she wrote for twenty years ? Sure, sure, dream on, dream on little dreamer.
Meanwhile, in the real world :
Well, it's good to see so many familiar faces, so many old friends. Some of ya I haven't seen in years. Well, thank you for coming. Now, Bill Coles, our able President, in the annual report, has told you of our year, of what we accomplished, of the need for further improvements, our business goals for next year and the years beyond. I'd like to talk to you about something else. I wanna share with you some of my thoughts concerning the vote that you're going to make in the company that you own. This proud company, which has survived the death of its founder, numerous recessions, one major depression, and two world wars, is in imminent danger of self-destructing - on this day, in the town of its birth. There is the instrument of our destruction. I want you to look at him in all of his glory, Larry 'The Liquidator,' the entrepreneur of post-industrial America, playing God with other people's money. The Robber Barons of old at least left something tangible in their wake - a coal mine, a railroad, banks. This man leaves nothing. He creates nothing. He builds nothing. He runs nothing. And in his wake lies nothing but a blizzard of paper to cover the pain. Oh, if he said, 'I know how to run your business better than you', that would be something worth talking about. But he's not saying that. He's saying, 'I'm gonna kill you because at this particular moment in time, you're worth more dead than alive.' Well, maybe that's true, but it is also true that one day, this industry will turn. One day when the yen is weaker, the dollar is stronger, or, when we finally begin to rebuild our roads, our bridges, the infrastructure of our country, demand will skyrocket. And when those things happen, we will still be here, stronger because of our ordeal, stronger because we have survived. And the price of our stock will make his offer pale by comparison. God save us if we vote to take his paltry few dollars and run. God save this country if that is truly the wave of the future. We will then have become a nation that makes nothing but hamburgers, creates nothing but lawyers, and sells nothing but tax shelters. And if we are at that point in this country, where we kill something because at the moment it's worth more dead than alive - well, take a look around. Look at your neighbor. Look at your neighbor. You won't kill him, will you? No. It's called murder and it's illegal. Well, this too is murder - on a mass scale. Only on Wall Street, they call it 'maximizing share-holder value' and they call it 'legal.' And they substitute dollar bills where a conscience should be. Damn it! A business is worth more than the price of its stock. It's the place where we earn our living, where we meet our friends, dream our dreams. It is, in every sense, the very fabric that binds our society together. So let us now, at this meeting, say to every Garfield in the land, 'Here, we build things. We don't destroy them. Here, we care about more than the price of our stock! Here, we care about people.'
Amen, and amen, and amen. You'll have to forgive me, I'm not familiar with the local custom. Where I come from, you always say 'Amen' after you hear a prayer. Because that's what you just heard - a prayer. Where I come from, that particular prayer is called 'The Prayer for the Dead.' You just heard The Prayer for the Dead, my fellow stockholders, and you didn't say, 'Amen.' This company is dead. I didn't kill it. Don't blame me. It was dead when I got here. It's too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead! You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. We're dead, alright. We're just not broke. And do you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow, but sure.
You know, at one time, there must've been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best god-damn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let's have the intelligence, let's have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future. 'Ah, but we can't,' goes the prayer. 'We can't because we have responsibility, a responsibility to our employees, to our community. What will happen to them?' I got two words for that - 'Who cares?' Care about them? Why? They didn't care about you. They sucked you dry. You have no responsibility to them. For the last ten years, this company bled your money. Did this community ever say, 'We know times are tough. We'll lower taxes, reduce water and sewer.' Check it out: You're paying twice what you did ten years ago. And our devoted employees, who have taken no increases for the past three years, are still making twice what they made ten years ago. And our stock - one-sixth of what it was ten years ago. 'Who cares?' I'll tell ya -- Me.
I'm not your best friend. I'm your only friend. I don't make anything. I'm makin' you money. And lest we forget, that's the only reason any of you became stockholders in the first place. You wanna make money! You don't care if they manufacture wire and cable, fried chicken, or grow tangerines! You wanna make money! I'm the only friend you've got. I'm makin' you money. Take the money. Invest it somewhere else. Maybe, maybe you'll get lucky and it'll be used productively. And if it is, you'll create new jobs and provide a service for the economy and, God forbid, even make a few bucks for yourselves. And if anybody asks, tell 'em ya gave at the plant. And by the way, it pleases me that I'm called 'Larry the Liquidator.' You know why, fellow stockholders? Because at my funeral, you'll leave with a smile on your face and a few bucks in your pocket. Now that's a funeral worth having!
Who do you figure is going to win the contest, this contest as well as any other ? Who do you figure should win it ?
So your "friend" the nigger came up with some words to explain why it's his job to spend and your job to somehow create the resources to support his spending. Guess what, if your answers to the previous two questions aren't the same, the only thing you're telling the world is that you, personally, are either poor (so you don't really understand what the words mean anyway, because yes, poor still is another way of saying stupid) or else a nigger (which is another way of saying contemptible - so you figure maybe if you nod just the right way and kiss just the right ass it may be your turn tomorrow to spend resources you don't know how to create). The unmitigated audacity of discussing the creation of resources while sitting atop a resource shredder is to be noted - that's the surefire sign of the nigger. He thinks he's white! Just like you and me!
Always remember : whenever someone is telling you he's about "more than money", your pocket is being picked. And, by and large, the people who don't give a shit about being your friends are the only friends you've got.———
- 1991, by Norman Jewison, with Danny DeVito, Gregory Peck and some broad that can't act. [↩]
- Oh you like Pacino ? Watch "S1mone" sometime.
Guy's a wreck, and there is such a thing as burying a respectable career under a deluge of libertardisms, malapropisms and assorted guffaws. That's why sane people retire : to let the idiots make "Retirement Home Real Videos" aka "Manglehorn". [↩]