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Barbarians at the Gate [VHS]


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Product Details

  • Actors: James Garner, Jonathan Pryce, Peter Riegert, Joanna Cassidy, Fred Dalton Thompson
  • Directors: Glenn Jordan
  • Writers: Bryan Burrough, John Helyar, Larry Gelbart
  • Producers: Jeffrey Downer, Marykay Powell, Ray Stark, Thomas M. Hammel
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: April 14, 1998
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302820553
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #812,690 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This HBO original comedy, adapted by Larry Gelbart (Tootsie) from the book by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, concerns one of the most compelling tales of corporate buyout madness in the go-go 1980s. James Garner plays F. Ross Johnson, CEO of RJR Nabisco. Following failed and expensive efforts to sell a smokeless cigarette to the public, Johnson decides that he's had enough of navigating around the wrath of the company's stockholders. Drawing up plans to buy RJR Nabisco outright, he soon finds himself outmatched (though still determined) in a race for the prize with takeover king Henry Kravis (Jonathan Pryce). The ensuing battle is both bitterly funny and full of acid-tinged insights into the '80s greed that changed corporate America forever. Besides Gelbart's great script and Glenn Jordan's competent direction, the star of this exciting film is Garner, who is absolutely wonderful as the gracious Johnson. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

It is very funny and the cast is perfect!
V. Atkins
A good movie, good for laughs, and even better when you remember that in general, it really happened...
Edward J. Barton
It was the total lack of morality of the post-war generation that helped fuel the greed of the 1980s.
Jeffrey Leach

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Horner on May 4, 2002
Format: DVD
This especially witty satire is one of the best movies about modern corporate attitudes ever made. It's based on the true story of the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco in the 1980s. While the filmmakers have naturally taken some artistic license, I think they capture the spirit of the event. In big business, they assert, given the choice between being greedy and doing the right thing, being greedy usually wins. This was especially true in this case because the bidding war that broke out drove the purchase price into the stratosphere. The company's stock, which had been trading in the $40 range was driven up to over $100. A whole lot of rich people got a whole lot richer.
There are many things to enjoy about "Barbarians at the Gate", not the least of which is James Garner as F. Ross Johnson, the man who ran RJR. He is completely believable as a natural born salesman who rose to run one of the world's biggest corporations. His greed may be a turnoff, but his zest for living is infectious and charming. You can't help liking the guy. His nemesis in this high stakes game in the financier, Henry Kravis, played by Jonathon Pryce. It's a deliciously villainous role, and Pryce makes the most of it. Also of note is the great character actor Peter Riegert as Peter Cohen, Johnson's right-hand man in the deal.
I especially liked the movie's tone. It looks upon the goings on with an eye as jaundiced as the players themselves. It views them as overgrown boys fighting over a very big toy, but it does so with an amused, almost affection, flavor. The result is an enormously entertaining and very funny movie.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 1997
Format: VHS Tape
Who knew you could make a comedy about a Leveraged Buyout (LBO)? James Garner, in a brilliant performance, plays F. Ross Johnson, the CEO of RJR Nabisco who wants to buy out the company. He learns about LBOs from the cool slick Henry Kravis, the then-master of the buyout (played by Jonathan Pryce). When Ross takes Kravis' advice and goes out on his own, Henry gets MAD and fires his own salvo. This was a time when people threw figures like "$25 billion" around and thought nothing of it. The technicals of the deal are explained with enough detail that non-financiers can easily follow what's going on. Nice satirical touches like Ross' wife's manicurist explaining the art of the deal to her. A lot of cussing; after all, this was the ultimate boys' game. Fine fun movie. END
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Phuoc Le on January 14, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
People who complained that this movie doesn't compare to the book should relax a little. Any movie that's based on books cannot do the book justice in less than 2 hours. If you have 3 hours a la Lord of the Rings or 4 hours like the A&E production of Pride & Prejudice, then maybe and I would have adjusted my rating accordingly.
But this movie is under 2 hours and managed to take a very complicated topic in Leveraged Buy-Outs (LBO's) in one of the biggest LBO's of our time in RJR-Nabisco and manages to make the story very entertaining. It flows quickly and I had no trouble following what's going on.
The acting is superb; Jonathan Pryce played Henry Kravis as a cold, calculated and ruthless corporate raider (whether Kravis is like that in real life I don't know) and James Garner did a nice job as F. Ross Johnson. Overall, if you like wall street type movies like Wall Street with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, I would highly recommend this movie. In fact, I like this better than Wall Street.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Big Guy on October 19, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
In the wild and wooly 1980s, leveraged buyouts (LBOs) -- financed predominantly through the issuance of junk bonds -- reigned supreme. James Garner gives a nice performance as CEO of RJR Nabisco, F. Ross Johnson. After reluctantly meeting with KKR's LBO guru Henry Kravis (portrayed masterfully by Jonathan Pryce), Johnson figures it would be best to go his own route to accomplish the buyout; after all, Johnson wants to retain his autonomy and Pryce would unlikely allow this to happen.
An all-out power war ensues, with Johnson working with Shearson Lehman Brothers pitted against Kravis and the powerhouse Drexel Burnham Lambert (mysteriously downplayed).
The performances are great and the storyline moves fast and holds your interest. Not to be missed if the dynamic world of finance is your thing. A very different movie than Wall Street both cinematically and contextually.
Stars James Garner, Jonathan Pryce (really, really good), and Peter Riegert.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I first saw this movie on HBO when it debuted in 1993 and have watched it over and over ever since. It is hillariously funny yet full of all the drama that the world of corporate buy outs holds - and whether you are familiar with that world or just as ignorant to all of it's inner workings as I was, you will easily follow the story. This movie is very well written (based on actual events that took place at RJR Nabisco)and provides superior performances by both James Garner and Jonathan Pryce. If you enjoy a story that combines comedy and drama geared for those that are beyond those Gen X years - give this a try. You'll love it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By StevenJM VINE VOICE on December 8, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Great satirical take on an excellent book. James Garner nails Ross Johnson and his desire to takeover his company. Jonathan Pryce makes an excellent Henry Kravis. The supporting characters are very good, too. Funny, sad, sometimes intense. If you haven't read the book yet, the video can help you understand it in a superficial way and will probably make you want to pick it up to get the gory details of how it all came about. Of course, the book is much more straightforward in it's approach.
The video really lampoons the greed of the 1980's and makes the viewer wonder whatever became of the smokeless cigarette.
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