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Enron - The Smartest Guys in the Room [Blu-ray]

4.4 out of 5 stars 477 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The inside story of one of history's greatest business scandals, in which top executives of America's seventh largest company walked away with over one billion dollars, while investors and employees lost everything. Based on the best selling book.

Amazon.com

One of the greatest scandals in American corporate history is chronicled in the riveting documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. Based on the bestselling book by Fortune magazine reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkin, and directed by Alex Gibney (who also produced The Trials of Henry Kissinger), the film is an epic morality tale, drawing upon a wealth of insider interviews and archival material to show how Enron, once the nation's seventh largest corporate entity, essentially faked its bookkeeping to report profits that never existed. The corrupt and closely-guarded mismanagement by Enron executives (including Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, later placed on criminal trial) is revealed through such heinous concepts as "Hypothetical Future Value" (a way of reaping fortunes based on false profit projections) and the use of offshore "shell" companies to hide the massive losses that eventually toppled the company (along with the venerable Arthur Anderson accounting firm) and left 20,000 employees jobless. As a maddening portrait of hubris and white-collar crime, Enron transcends political and corporate boundaries by showing how smart and powerful men grew blinded by greed and brought ruin upon themselves, along with thousands of otherwise innocent victims. For better and worse, it's a perfect double-feature with eye-opening 2004 documentary The Corporation. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: America Ferrera, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Mary-Louise Parker, Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Directors: Alex Gibney
  • Writers: Alex Gibney, Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind
  • Producers: Alex Gibney, Craig Harris, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Magnolia
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2006
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (477 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GFRII6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,117 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Enron - The Smartest Guys in the Room [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on June 19, 2005
I went into Alex Gibney's "Smartest Guys in the Room" having read Robert Bryce's "Pipe Dreams" and Kurt Eichenwald's "Conspiracy of Fools" thinking to myself: should be good, but no way the movie is going to come close to telling the story like those two authors did.

Well, surprise, surprise: the movie is outstanding on its own terms and all credit goes to Gibney. While the books focus on unraveling all of Andy Fastow's 'Special Purpose Entities' like the Raptors, LJM, Chewco, etc., Gibney brilliantly focuses on showing us things that are simply better on film: audio recordings of Enron traders jacking the California energy system; a devastated Portland Gas line worker after his 401K has gone to seed; an uncomfortable Skilling getting grilled by a Senate panel while Sherron Watkins glowers at him from 10 feet away; some Enron HR flack urging its employees to put all their 401K money into company stock, etc.

And there are two incredible, spine-tingling moments if you know the Enron story:

- An audio recording of the famous quarterly results analyst call where Skilling loses it and calls an analyst an a------. [The analyst only asked why the company couldn't produce a balance sheet.] Reading Eichenwald's book, you know Skilling is clearly unhinged at this point. For many, this call was the turning point of the great unraveling.

- A secret video recording from Merrill Lynch of Andy Fastow's LJM2 pitch to a bunch of bankers. This is *mesmerizing* stuff. Fastow is front and center in the books, but remains a spooky, off-camera presence in the movie. However, this one piece nails him. He's perpetrating a major fraud with that spiel.
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Narrated by veteran actor, Peter Coyote, this DVD is disturbingly real. It reveals the depths to which some people will sink to profit for themselves while bringing misery to others. It was widespread in the company and pathological.

First, Arthur Anderson Consulting signed off on "mark to marketing" accounting. In other words, Enron could report their projected earnings as actual profits. They could "report" profits of millions of dollars that they didn't have. They paid bonuses and other excesses with these projections.

Next, Jeff Skilling was hired by Ken Lay to run the operations of the company. Skilling was a man with fresh, or some would say, grandiose ideas. This is just what Lay wanted--a man of vision. Skilling soon instituted promotions and bonuses for traders who produced more than the other guy. Creating a classic cutthroat environment, the producers were given phenomenal bonuses while their less successful counterparts were shown the door. These were all being given on projected earnings.

One rebel market analyst from Merrill Lynch would not give Enron a "strong buy" rating. Skilling contacted Merrill Lynch who promptly fired the errant employee, and Enron gave Merrill Lynch a fifty million dollar contract.

Enter Andy Fastow another Enron executive in the mold of Jeff Skilling who managed to set up dummy corporations which were paying Enron. Several prominent banks knew of the scheme and went along with it. (You may even have your money in one of them.)

Another Enron executive, named Pi was an executive cuthroat who knew his predilections and his limits. He left the company after making $250,000,000 and married his pregnant, stripper girlfriend.
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OK, I admit it. I didn't get the whole Enron thing a few years back. The Enron collapse happened too soon after 9/11 and I was completely preoccupied with that and our subsequent war on terror to pay much attention to the Enron story. Plus I figured that it was probably too complex for me to understand without doing a lot of research and I just didn't want to give it that much attention. And on top of that, I had never even heard of the company before so understanding what had happened at this Texan company clearly wasn't a priority to me. So...I enjoyed the documentary in helping me to finally understood what happened... Well, now I get it. And I'm soooo suprised to learn about so many connections I hadn't put together before like California's "energy crisis", the Enron collapse, and the political (yet ignorant) motivation for naming Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. The documentary is extremely well done, definitely kept my attention, and provides an uncomplicated, riveting look at corporate greed and narcissism. It is definitely worth a few bucks and two hours of your time.
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This is a great documentary which captures the go-go 90's, the rise of the internet, and the rise(and fall)of funny money. Maybe they were the smartest guys at Enron, but they were silk-suit wearing con men who operated a macho ponzi scheme that bilked countless investors who felt secure that something so big could never fall so fast. It is an indictment of corporate greed . . . and I say this as a conservative. This is capitalism run amok. The movie puts the rise and fall of Enron in its proper context . . . a metaphor for the '90's . . . when the only direction on wall street was up.
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