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FRONTLINE: The Madoff Affair
FRONTLINE The Madoff Affair
Actor: n/a
Director: Marcela Gaviria;Martin Smith
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
NR     2009     1hr 0min

In the mid-1960s, Bernard Madoff tapped money from Jewish businessmen at exclusive country clubs with the promise of steady guaranteed returns on their investments.  He then set his sights on Europe and Latin America, brok...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: n/a
Director: Marcela Gaviria;Martin Smith
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
Studio: Pbs (Direct)
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 07/21/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Shame On Bernie... Shame On Us!
Doctor A. | San Diego, CA United States | 09/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Perhaps the most fact-based documentary available on this quintessential Ponzi scheme. Madoff is a master con artist to be sure, but he is only the tip of a glacial mass on Wall Street. From reviewer comments here and elsewhere, it seems most folks just don't recognize the larger economic, social and ethical context in which this scam took place. Since Reagan, the waves of federal deregulation and the ill-conceived withdrawal of oversight literally created an incubation chamber for greed and abuse. The casino capitalism of Bush/Cheney opened the gates to outright fraud and rampant corruption.

If we look back just a few years, Enron, Tyco and WorldCom were simply the prelude to Bear Stearns, Lehman Bros, Fannie, Freddie, AIG -- and Madoff. Sadly, America is becoming a nation that knows the price of everything... and the value of nothing. From corporate debt that is reported as assets, to fantasy home mortgages that are expected to default, to the "Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless" mentality that is so widely promoted by the media and embraced by the public, it is abundantly obvious that this nation has lost it's moral compass. To quote Justice Louis Brandeis, "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
It was all "one big lie"
Stephen Pletko | London, Ontario, Canada | 02/15/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)


"It was to good to be true...But nobody wanted to ask questions...From small-time investors to sophisticated hedge fund managers...And where were the regulators?..."

The above is what the narrator tells us at the beginning of this revealing documentary. It unravels the true story and mechanics behind the world's first global Ponzi scheme--a scheme "that lasted longer, reached wider, and cut deeper than any other business scandal in history!"

(A Ponzi scheme is a pyramid type swindle in which very high returns are promised to early investors, who are paid off with money put up by later investors. Generally a hedge fund hedges (reduces) some of the risks inherent in investments using a variety of methods.)

This documentary was televised on May 12, 2009 and explains everything up until one month before the mastermind behind this scheme was sentenced.

Who was the mastermind? ANSWER: Bernard "Bernie" Madoff. Madoff (pronounced "Made Off") was a former stockbroker, financial advisor, and chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange.

The fact is that billions of dollars were channelled to Madoff's investment firm. He and his "feeders" became wealthy--fabulously wealthy. All this ended when Madoff's con was discovered on Dec. 11, 2008. Madoff himself confessed that it was all "one big lie."

This documentary answers many key questions such as:

(1) How did Madoff pull it off?
(2) Who helped him?
(3) When did it all begin?
(4) With all the suspicions and many red flags, just where were the regulators?
(5) How was Madoff able to pull his con off for so long?
(6) Why did he finally get caught?

There are brief comments about what happened made by journalists, business people, lawyers, bilked investors, etc. As well, there is lots of archival footage shown.

Be aware that this documentary does not stop to define terms. There are a few terms (like the two defined above) that the average viewer may not be familiar with. When you come across such terms, it's best to pause the documentary, and look them up. Doing this will aid in understanding and enjoyment of this program.

Finally, the DVD itself (the one released in 2009) is perfect in picture and sound quality. Not mentioned is that this DVD has closed captioning. It has no extras.

In conclusion, this is an extremely interesting and well-done documentary that seems to me illuminates two lessons:

(1) It's YOUR money. YOU have to look after it (not someone else).

(2) Don't give your money to people named Madoff. They just might MAKE OFF with it.

(2009; 55 min; first televised on the PBS program "Frontline;" wide screen; 8 chapters)