Burt Prelutsky

It’s not as if his superiors are splendid role models. The guy he answers to is a nasty piece of work who lords it over him, treating him like trash. And even though they know he’s not earning a dime and has a kid to support, one boss stiffs him on a $20 taxi ride (leading to yet another chase scene, albeit one in which, for a change, Gardner is the one being pursued) and another boss hits him up for five bucks and then takes his own sweet time paying him back.

In a way, it’s the depiction of the brokerage business that does so much to make Gardner’s dream seem so tawdry. I mean, what sort of business puts a bunch of people through a grueling series of tests to come up with just one candidate -- and doesn’t even pay the poor slobs minimum wage?

In the inevitable crawl at the end of the movie, we learn that Mr. Gardner, an actual person, went on to create his own brokerage house and become a millionaire. We aren’t told if his firm’s intern program was any more humane than the one he’d just barely survived.

I also couldn’t help wondering if he ever had second thoughts about what he wound up doing with his life. After all, stocks go down as well as up, and when they plummet, they can easily wipe out the life savings of investors.

So when he sold clients on, say, Enron, the stock market’s equivalent of bone density monitors, did he ever wonder how many of them wound up sleeping with their kids on the floor of a public toilet?