The immoral, corrupt developer was the go-to villain for a spell in Hollywood with one of the most celebrated — and seasonally appropriate — examples being the ying and yang of George Bailey and Henry F. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life.
Though the trend of the developer-as-a-bad-guy seems to have tapered off after the 1980s according to City Lab, saving a threatened piece of land from big business remains a universal story of struggle, regardless of where your allegiances truly lie.
In time for the final days of this holiday season, here’s a list of some of the most celebrated movies where real estate drives the plot line (usually for the worst) as compiled by City Lab:
1. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
A classic with a good developer (now a rarity) pitted against a slum lord.
2. Scooby-Doo (1969 to 1986)
That gang of kids who continually outfox a ghostly real estate speculator just in the nick of time.
3. Herbie Rides Again (1974)
The beloved car with personality helps an elderly lady stop a developer from building a mall.
4. Superman (1978)
An unscrupulous developer plans to up his property value by sinking California so he suddenly has coastal property. Superman, obviously, intervenes.
5. Poltergeist (1982)
Another good vs. bad developer case: the good guy faces off with spirits after moving into a home built on a former cemetery.
6. The Goonies (1985)
A treasure hunt sparked by a greedy developer threatening a pair of brothers’ home.
7. Beetlejuice (1988)
A real-life developer moves into a new house with his family without knowing a ghost couple also call it home; comedy and conflict ensue as the ghostly couple tries to chase out the humans.
8. Medicine Man (1992)
The development of a road throws the cure for cancer into jeopardy. Set in the Amazon jungle.
9. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Office politics get intense in this one: real estate agents compete head-to-head after their head office announces they’ll be firing all but two members of the sales team.
10. The Brady Bunch Movie (1995)
In this architect vs. developer movie, the Bradys’ gaggle of a dozen kids try to help their architect dad win money to stop a bad developer from taking their house.
[City Lab] — Erin Hudson