Stock Market

“Rollover”, the Movie

Rollover is a 1981 political and financial thriller directed by Alan J. Pakula and starring Jane Fonda and Kris Kristofferson.

Jane Fonda plays Lee Winters, the widow of the Chairman and primary stockholder of Winterchem Enterprises, a chemical company, who is attempting to obtain financing of the purchase of a processing plant in Spain, while trying to determine why her husband was murdered.

Apparently, her late husband discovered some damning information about an Account Number 21214, a secret slush fund involving asset transfers.

Respected finance man Hubbell Smith (Kris Kristofferson) takes over as president of Boro National Bank at the request of First New York Bank chairman Maxwell Emery (Hume Cronyn), in an attempt to have Smith discover the financial status of Boro National.

Smith discovers that the bank isn’t just in trouble, it’s essentially so insolvent that it can’t even pay its next dividend. It needs to find a customer who needs to borrow a lot of money and either loan the money or act as broker in the deal in order to raise some quick cash and stave off intervention by the Federal Reserve.

One of the largest customers of Boro National is Winterchem, but because of federal lending limits, the bank “can’t loan them a dime” but conceivably could be involved in brokering a deal between Winterchem and some other lender capable of loaning the approximately $500 million needed to buy the plant, and the bank would receive a 1% finder’s fee for making the arrangement.

Thus Smith becomes involved, both financially and romantically, with Mrs. Winters in her attempts to finance the purchase of the petrochemical plant and in the discovery of the mystery of account 21214. They finally do so by brokering a deal with some Arab investors who take control of her stock as security for the transaction.

Smith later discovers that account 21214 is actually a slush fund where Emery is moving money belonging to the Arabs into gold as a safe haven against potential losses if the dollar collapses. The Arabs are extremely worried that if anyone finds out their assets will vanish in a public panic as American currency becomes worthless.

Mrs Winters also discovers the Arabs are behind account 21214, and wants her stock back in exchange for her silence; she has overheard part of Smith’s conversation with Emery and mistakenly believes he was double-crossing her. A fake limo driver who is actually working for the Arab investors tries to kidnap her with the intent of killing her – as it turns out they did to her husband – to prevent her from disclosing what she knows, and when the attempt on her life fails, the Arabs panic and pull all of their money out of every bank in America, and possibly the entire world.

A monetary crisis occurs as a result of panic and worldwide rioting as people discover all of their money is now worthless.