Bernard Madoff's voyage from superhuman to super humiliation is similar to many film plots where a con man's actual body not only makes him successful but also shows he's human.

Anatomy - sometimes vulgar, sometimes ordinary - is thetheme running through films like Glengarry Glenn Ross, the Prime Gig and Wall Street.

Madoff's conviction this week had Steve Vincent speculating that the once-Wall Street deity was about to experience his own mortality in the flesh.

Vincent is a a former inmate turned consultant who told the New York Post that once Madoff enters prison and has to "bend over and spread 'em" during a strip search, he'll realize he no longer has any control over his life.

It's the end of a transition, which might have started when he ran Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, a firm renowned for 10.5 percent returns for over 15 years.

The Human Touch

In film, a con artist's body is a weapon as much as a handicap.

Vincent Vaughn's character Pendelton Wise in The Prime Gig believed he had the ability to sell property in a fake gold mine.

Pendleton describes to Ed Harris' character Kelly Grant the need to wrap his tongue around the pitch.

Like other films about con men, in The Prime Gig, a man's sexual organsare seen as a sign of his ability and independence.

On his first closed deal, Pendleton plays to one caller's inability to "get his balls out of his wife's purse" and buy some shares in this bogus mine.

Pendleton masters the cold-call pitch, but his own "balls" are the source of him getting conned as he begins, to put it politely, thinking with them.

Independence and Brass

"Get them to sign on the line which is dotted," commands Alec Bladwins character Blake in Glengarry Glenn Ross.

Blake is a salesman who has been recruited into a New York real estate office where salesmen cold call prospective buyers to sell them property in the fictitious Rio Rancho Estates.

Blake's command is put into context as he brandishes a pair of brass orbs resembling a man's testicles and tells the salesmen that being a "closer," one who can successfully con buyers into Rio Rancho, requires a pair made of brass.

Like Madoff's own situation, the metallic facade is broken to reveal an underlying human skin.The film's end can leave viewers cringing or crying, but at least feeling human.

Just Bud Fox

Wall Street's Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, slugs Cahrlie Sheen's Bud Fox in Central Park after Fox has conned him.

In the film, Fox is supposed to be working for Gekko but he has had a change of heart.

The conscience and the love he has for his father have made Fox realize that human bonds are more important than the money.Bud sheds the veneer of a stock trading iron man, telling Gekko he is just Bud Fox.

Family becomes an important theme toward the end of Wall Street, similar to the current scandal with Bernard Madoff.

Any Supermen Left

The true tragedy with the Madoff scandal is the financial destruction he brought on so many elderly people who entrusted the results of their lives' efforts with him.

Men and women who had already reired are working again.

Returns on investment of 10 percent per year for over 15 years is too good to be true - it sounds more like the work of a superhuman.

Are there any financial supermen left, promising something that sounds too good to be true?

Probably, but cinema indicates that they are sure to self-destruct.

 

Photo by Andrew Otto
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Bernard Madoff's busted balls

By: Andrew Otto