Interpreting business in film: Three case studies in creative leadership

Anice M O'Connor, Salve Regina University


This dissertation examines how the creative characteristics and behaviors of business leaders are portrayed in selected modern films. Using the specific genre of the biographical film as the medium, the study investigates how each film protagonist depicts particular traits and levels of creative action in business, as identified in leadership literature of the late twentieth century. The selected American films include Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Bugsy, and The People vs. Larry Flynt. In Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Preston Tucker is portrayed as a heroic automotive visionary trying to operate in a world dominated by the Big Three in Detroit. Presented as a devoted husband and family man, he is committed to breaking the existing automotive paradigm and political machinery through perseverance, humor, and team resourcefulness. In the film Bugsy, Benjamin Siegel dreams of building a gambling mecca in the desert, a place eventually recognized as Las Vegas. Unpredictable and violent, he nonetheless possesses the dedication to a vision that extends far beyond the economic worries of his crime family partners. In The People vs. Larry Flynt, the adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt is devoted almost exclusively to the pursuit of money and material wealth. Self-promoting and overindulgent, Flynt still shows creative leadership in his ability to unabashedly copy and market an existing business model for his own purposes. As the actions of each protagonist take visual shape through three unique biographical films, the similarities and differences of the main characters serve as excellent illustrations of themes identified in late twentieth century leadership literature.

Subject Area

Management|Motion pictures|Business education

Recommended Citation

O'Connor, Anice M, "Interpreting business in film: Three case studies in creative leadership" (2006). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI3195876.