Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Synopsis: Enron dives from the seventh largest US company to bankruptcy in less than a year in this tale told chronologically. The emphasis is on human drama, from suicide to 20,000 people sacked: the personalities of Ken Lay (with Falwellesque rectitude), Jeff Skilling (he of big ideas), Lou Pai (gone with $250 M), and Andy Fastow (the dark prince) dominate. Along the way, we watch Enron game California's deregulated electricity market, get a free pass from Arthur Andersen (which okays the dubious mark-to-market accounting), use greed to manipulate banks and brokerages (Merrill Lynch fires the analyst who questions Enron's rise), and hear from both Presidents Bush what great guys these are.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Alex Gibney
Production: Magnolia Pictures
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 10 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
110 min

What's he building in there?

What the hell is

he building in there?

It had taken Enron

16 years to go

from about 10 billion

of assets to

65 billion of assets.

It took them 24 days

to go bankrupt.

What the hell is

he building in there?

This company collapsed

so quickly and so entirely.

I mean it was into bankruptcy

within a matter of weeks.

It just immediately had

all the makings of

a gigantic scandal.

He's hiding something

from the rest of us.

The fatal flaw at Enron

if there is one,

you say it was pride

but then it was arrogance,

intolerance, greed,

So many of them were

blinded by the money

that they didn't see that

they were sinking

their own life boat

We have a right to know.

It just got hungrier

and hungrier.

Sooner or later

they were doomed to go off

that cliff at 90 miles an hour.

It's astounding that they

got away with it for so long.

In reality,

Enron was a house of cards.

What we didn't know was

that the house of cards

had been built over

a pool of gasoline

It all sort of became

smoke and mirrors.

Committee will come to order.

This is a case of America's

largest corporate bankruptcy.

The question here is

what happened,

who was responsible

for it happening,

and what can we do to

prevent this sort of thing

from happening again.

I think the Enron story's

so fascinating

because people perceive

it as a story

that's about numbers.

That it's somehow about all

these complicated transactions.

But in reality

it's a story about people

and it's really

a human tragedy.

On this date, at 2:23 am,

Sugar Land police

discovered John C Baxter

located inside his vehicle

with an apparent gunshot

wound to the head.

Ah... at this time there has

been a suicide note located.

Sir, can you give us

any indication whether

this was related to

Enron's bankruptcy.

We do know that he was

and Enron employee,

but as far as any other

indications of why

he committed suicide,

no we do not.

Mr. Skilling,

let me touch on something

that's sort of sad

and that's of course

the suicide of Cliff Baxter.

And you mentioned

he was your best friend

in your opening statement.

Before he died,

did you have many

conversations with him?


And were any of them

relative to Enron?


There's no one that knew Cliff,

toward the end,

that didn't realize that

he was heartbroken

by what had happened.

And Cliff came over to my house

and he said 'They're calling

us child molesters. '

He says,

'That will never wash off. '

But Mr. Skilling

you don't believe that.

I don't believe what?

You don't believe that

the press and everybody

calling Cliff Baxter

or yourself or anybody

on the Board of Directors,

denigrating or tainting you,

you don't think it's accurate

is what you're saying

to us here today.

I do not believe...

I did not do anything wrong

that was not in the interest

In all the time that

I worked for Enron Corporation,

it was in the interest of the

shareholders of the company.

Ultimately, who was responsible

for the downfall of Enron?

Only a few years ago,

Enron was the nation's

seventh-largest corporation,

valued at almost

70 billion dollars.

Pundits praised the company

as a new business model.

This trading floor was manned

by America's best and brightest,

charting the futures of

energy and power.

And high above each

with a private staircase,

Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling

had built their own

plush staterooms.

They were known as

the smartest guys in the room.

Captains of a ship

too powerful to ever go down.

In the Titanic, the captain

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Alex Gibney

Philip Alexander "Alex" Gibney (born October 23, 1953) is an American documentary film director and producer. In 2010, Esquire magazine said Gibney "is becoming the most important documentarian of our time".His works as director include Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (winner of three Emmys in 2015), We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (the winner of three primetime Emmy awards), Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (nominated in 2005 for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (short-listed in 2011 for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); Casino Jack and the United States of Money; and Taxi to the Dark Side (winner of the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature), focusing on a taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed at Bagram Air Force Base in 2002. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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