Billionaire Movies: A Lesson From The Edge
What one man can do, another can do. – David Mamet’s The Edge
Last evening something reminded me of a line from a 1997 David Mamet movie in which a billionaire is stranded out in the Rocky Mountains after a plane crash along with two other men. The trio then quickly finds itself being stalked by a huge grizzly bear. Anthony Hopkins plays the billionaire, Charles Morse. His companions in the ordeal are played by Alec Baldwin (“Robert”) and Harold Perrineau (“Stephen”). Stephen dies early on leaving Charles and Robert to try to work together in order to survive despite the fact that Charles knows that Robert is having an affair with his wife.
Initially the two consider themselves the bear’s doomed prey until Charles starts to remember what he has read in the past about hunting tactics used by Native Americans. Suddenly ideas start percolating up from his memory on how they could turn the game around so that the bear becomes their prey. When Charles first shares his ideas Robert is skeptical but then gets sold on trying them in order to survive. Frankly, there was no other option. It was either kill or be killed.
Charles: We’ll have to distract him and trap him, but it can be done.
Do you believe it, Bob?
You believe it?
Robert: I don’t know Charles.
I don’t think it’ll work.
Charles: It will work!
Charles: It will work. What one man can do another can do.
Robert: You can’t kill the bear, Charles. He’s…
He’s ahead of us all the time, like he’s reading our minds.
He’s stalking us, for God’s sakes!
Charles: You want to die out here, huh? Well, then die.
But I tell you what… I’m not gonna die. No, sirree. I’m not gonna die. No, I’m gonna kill the bear. Say it, “I’m gonna kill the bear. I’m gonna kill the bear!” Say it!
Robert: I’m gonna kill the bear.
Charles: Say it again.
Robert: I’m gonna kill the bear!
Charles: And again.
Robert: I’m gonna kill the bear!!!
Charles: Good. What one man can do, another can do.
Robert: What one man can do, another can do.
Charles: Say it again!
Robert: What one man can do…
Another can do!!!
Charles: Yeah! You’re goddamn right.
‘Cause today… I’m gonna kill the mother f#%#er.
Here’s a short clip from this scene:
There are two big takeaways from this film. First, you can do almost anything anyone else can if you really need to–or want to. Second, you can learn a great deal from studying how others have accomplished great things in the past. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the self-made Russian billionaires, or “Oligarchs” as they are known in their country, who appeared so quickly in the mid-1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union learned how to be capitalists by reading American novels and watching American films. It was all they had to go by since the Communists had banned Western texts on finance and entrepreneurship.
Never underestimate what you can learn from others.