All the Money in the World.



When we are in Arizona we love to see movies. I am not sure why, but we seem to have much more time for movies out here. We always try to see as many of the movies nominated for best picture as possible. The first movie we saw was All the Money in the World.

This film gained notoriety when Kevin Spacey, who originally played J. Paul Getty, was discharged from the film after it was shot, because of cascading allegations of sexual misconduct. Christopher Plummer was hired to play the role and all the scenes with Spacey were reshot one month before the release date of the film. It is incredible that so much could be done in such a short time. And they did it well.

The movie is based (inspired by it says) real events that occurred in 1973 when Italian kidnappers abducted the grandson of J. Paul Getty, John Paul Getty III. The grandfather, according to the film, was not only the richest man in the world; he was the richest man in the history of the world. Even though the grandson was the most favorite of all of his grandchildren, Getty hardly raised an eyebrow when he heard news of the kidnapping because he was watching the stock market results on the ticker tape. That is sacred of course.

When the media asked Getty how much he would pay to have his grandson released he said, quietly, ominously, and matter-of-factly, “Nothing.” It was shocking.

Only when a cut off ear of the grandson was sent to him in the mail did Getty start to take this seriously and even then, he did it as a business tycoon. He tried to get the best deal he could. He bargained. He bargained for the life of his favorite grandson. Getty said he has no money to spare.

Later when Getty reneges on his promise to pay because the oil embargo has made him more insecure, his chief fixer, Chase, played by Mark Wahlberg, asks Getty, “But no one has ever been richer than you are. What would it take for your to feel secure?” “More,” was the chilling answer. The answer of a true businessman.

There was one more element in the movie I found interesting. Recently I have been thinking a lot about rich people. Rich people and their fears. Some people have criticized me for this saying I sow seeds of class conflict. I disagree but may deal with that issue some time.

The rich seem to have intense fears, not the least when they are most secure. That is what I find most interesting. Why do the most secure seem to feel the most insecurity? In fact, it often seems the richer they are, the more fearful they are. I always think this is a hint that they feel guilt over their wealth. They feel that they don’t deserve it and someone will be coming to take it away, and they had better be prepared.

Peter Bradshaw the movie reviewer in The Guardian had some interesting things to say about Getty in this context. As Bradshaw said, “This film suggests they (the rich) also have more fear of their own children – fear that they will parasitically suck away energy that should be devoted to building up riches and status; that they will fail to be worthy inheritors of it, or waste it, or cause it to be catastrophically mortgaged to their own pampered weakness. This fear is the driving force of Ridley Scott’s raucous pedal-to-the-metal thriller about the ageing and super-rich oil tycoon J. Paul Getty.”[1]

Fear makes the rich do strange things. Things that might not be to their own advantage. Things that reveal a stark lack of fellow feeling. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “The rich are different from you and me,” to which Ernest Hemingway is famously alleged to have replied: “Yes, they have more money.” Hemingway should have said, “Yes they have more fear.”

Kris Kristofferson wisely said, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” That was true. But he could have said, just as truly, “Fear is just another word for everything left to lose.”

[1] Peter Bradshaw, “All the Money in the World review–raucous crime thriller banishes ghost of Kevin Spacey,” The Guardian (Dec. 19, 2017)

2 thoughts on “All the Money in the World.

  1. I too saw the movie and not once did I think as you did, there is a true businessman.
    As the daughter of a businessman I did not see any similarities between Getty and my Father at all!
    Also, no similarities between Getty and the Aspers. Getty was a miser who never gave to charity. The Aspers give, and give. Winnipeg would be a far less interesting place to live without the funding of the arts, medicine and education that the Aspers do.
    For me, Getty stood in stark contrast to all the businessmen I personally know.

    1. I agree entirely. Your father was never that way. I have nothing but respect for him. Neither were the Aspers. My complaints about SOME rich people are those who have no fellow feeling at al for those less fortunate than they are. They are the ones that might destroy capitalism.

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