Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

2005 | Documentary | 109 minutes | English


Shortly after Kenneth Lay founded Enron, he hired Jeffrey Skilling as CEO and Andrew Fastow as CFO. The team used corrupt and illegal methods to show annual profits even though the companies they run were losing tons of money. By recording profits on certain projects immediately after contracts were signed they could manipulate the books to show profits when there were none. Enron was also involved in shutting down power plants in California to sabotage the political ambitions of Gray Davis, the governor. Enron started to fall apart when Bethany McLean, a Fortune reporter, wrote of “irregularities about Enron’s financial statements and stock value.” On November 2001 Enron declared bankruptcy. As a result, many of its employees lost their pensions and life savings while investors lost over $11 billion in shareholder value.  
Kenneth Lay (Founder and President) / Andrew Fastow (Chief Financial Officer) / Jeffrey Skilling (Chief Executive Officer) / Gray Davis (California Governor)
Why Stream This Film?

How unusual: the idea that a company is “too big to fail” did not happen to Enron as it came crashing down.

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 97%
  • Metacritic Score: 82
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Documentary
  • Writers Guild of America: Winner, Best Documentary Screenplay (Peter Elkind, Alex Gibney, Bethany McLean)
  • Independent Spirit Awards: Winner, Best Documentary
This excellent documentary is a fascinating story of greed, criminality, and self-deception that spreads out from Enron’s flashy HQ in Houston to the White House and the whole financial world that was complicit in the company’s activities.
Philip French

The Guardian

This is not a political documentary. It is a crime story. No matter what your politics, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room will make you mad. It tells the story of how Enron rose to become the seventh largest corporation in America with what was essentially a Ponzi scheme, and in its last days looted the retirement funds of its employees to buy a little more time.
Roger Ebert


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