In the mid-1960s, stock broker turned financial honcho Bernard Madoff started scraping together money from prominent businessmen at
exclusive country clubs with the promise of steady returns on their
investments. He then set his sights on Europe and Latin America,
brokering deals with powerful hedge fund managers and feeder funds from
Buenos Aires to Geneva. Billions of dollars were channeled to Madoff’s
investment firm, and his bundlers became fabulously wealthy. The
competition wondered how Madoff could produce such steady returns in
times good and bad. The truth, of course, is that he couldn’t; he was in reality running a massive Ponzi scheme.
An hour-long Frontline investigatory title, The Madoff Affair unravels the story behind the world’s first truly global pyramid scam — a deception that lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than any other business scandal in history. Written and produced by Macela Gaviria and Martin Smith, the program features all sorts of talking head interview subjects, and makes sense of how one could perpetrate such an elongated criminal ruse. Less clearly delineated, however, are the failures in regulatory oversight by those tasked with policing the financial industry. There’s also a cool, analytical distance to the movie — in its obsession and preoccupation with numbers, it fails a bit to adequately highlight the human component of this tragedy, and just how innocent lives were deeply, deeply affected by Madoff’s rampant greed and criminal mischief.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case with a deep-set disc tray, The Madoff Affair is presented in 16×9 widescreen, with an English stereo audio track that more than adequately handles the title’s meager aural requirements. There are no supplemental features, alas. To purchase the title via Amazon, click here; to purchase directly from PBS, and support their programming, click here. B (Movie) C+ (Disc)