The Hollywood Versions of Steve Jobs and Other Tycoons

  1. Will the Real Steve Jobs Please Stand Up?
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    Will the Real Steve Jobs Please Stand Up?

    Not everyone’s lucky enough to have a former Calvin Klein model play him in a biopic. A look at tycoons who’ve been given the Hollywood treatment.

    Steve Jobs
    Jobs

    Who? Apple co-founder
    Authentic? “I have a little bug in me that says that this movie will portray Steve as a saint,” Steve Wozniak, who hadn’t yet seen the film, told Gizmodo, “rather than one of the key people who led Apple through failure after failure.”
    Bottom line: Pure hagiography. Kutcher is fine, but wait for the next Jobs biopic, written by Aaron Sorkin.

  2. Charles Foster Kane
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    Charles Foster Kane

    Citizen Kane

    Who? A publishing tycoon based on William Randolph Hearst
    Authentic? Hearst famously tried to get the film burned by its studio, RKO Radio Pictures, and then prevented his newspapers from running ads for it.
    Bottom line: The Hearst family has finally relented—they recently organized a screening at Hearst Ranch.

  3. Daniel Plainview
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    Daniel Plainview

    There Will Be Blood

    Who? An oilman based on Edward Doheny
    Authentic? Doheny, who died in 1935, never commented on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil! upon which the movie is based. The film was shot in Doheny’s Greystone Mansion, now a public park.
    Bottom line: Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson successfully captures the original era of runaway capitalism.

  4. Mark Zuckerberg
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    Mark Zuckerberg

    The Social Network

    Who? Facebook ­co-founder
    Authentic? “They just can’t wrap their head around the idea that someone might build something because they like building things,” Zuckerberg said at a conference in 2010. The filmmakers did nail his wardrobe, Zuck admits.
    Bottom line: Writer Sorkin doesn’t particularly care about Facebook, so the story never gets too reverential.

  5. Gordon Gekko
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    Gordon Gekko

    Wall Street

    Who? Hostile takeover king, based on Michael Milken
    Authentic? “I met Michael Milken … with [director] Oliver Stone at the Drexel Burnham offices,” Michael Douglas told the Examiner in 2010. “Oliver said, ‘Can you show me the shredding machines?’ ”
    Bottom line: Inspiring young finance types wasn’t Stone’s intent. Oh, well.
  6. Howard Hughes
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    Howard Hughes

    The Aviator

    Who? Aviation entrepreneur, movie producer
    Authentic? The actress Terry Moore, who once lived with Hughes, offered her praise in a 2012 interview: “I thought they captured the glamour years. ... Leo did a great job.”
    Bottom line: Director Martin Scorsese’s kinship with his subject shines in the scenes in which Hughes pursues his dream of producing movies.

  7. Preston Tucker
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    Preston Tucker

    Tucker: The Man and His Dream

    Who? Auto entrepreneur
    Authentic? The Tucker family was consulted during production, and the inventor’s daughter gave her approval at the time: “My father is looking down on this and smiling.”
    Bottom line: Director Francis Ford Coppola, a fellow tech innovator, saw much of himself in Tucker.

  8. Thomas Edison
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    Thomas Edison

    Edison, the Man

    Who? Founder of the company that eventually became General Electric
    Authentic? Edison was a ruthless competitor, but you wouldn’t know it from this glossy, positive movie.
    Bottom line: The film hasn’t aged well, but Spencer Tracy, probably cinema’s greatest Average Joe, is excellent as the headstrong, visionary inventor.