Works that show the rich as hardworking and in a positive light

It’s a commonplace to show the rich at leisure or scheming , or the mill-owner kicking the pleb, or the crooked share-dealer, or the generic evil capitalist ruining people’s lives, but many - if not most - rich people are self-made, and work hard for their money. So what are the works that show the rich actually at work positively or at least sympathetically?


  • Schindlers List * ?

Anything based on Ayn Rand’s books. Nobody else slobbers on rich knobs like she does.

Well, everyone remembers Dickens for creating Scrooge, but Nicholas Nickleby also gave us the self-made tycoons cum jolly philanthropists the Cheeryble Brothers:


Iron Man*

Good one.

White Christmas.

American Madness – Walter Huston plays a rich banker who lends money in unconventional ways, by trusting people to do the right thing. He’s so beloved that, when there’s a run on the bank due to missing money, and he is threatened with jail, all his friends gladly get together to raise the cash. Directed by Frank Capra, who stole . . . returned to the theme some years later.

Other People’s Money – the Gregory Peck character is wealthy but feels a responsibility to keep his plant open to support his community.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, though Deeds gets his money by inheriting it, he wants to use it to help others.

It’s a long time since I read Nickleby, but were we actually shown them hard at work?

Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mister Rosewater, though arguably Eliot Rosewater’s philanthropy was driven more by the traumas he suffered in World War 2 than anything resembling noblesse oblige.

United Passions, that godawful FIFA movie?

This thread isn’t really interested in philanthropy but a positive showing of the rich working.

Especially Atlas Shrugged . . . and only *some *of the rich.

Downton Abbey. There’s a lot of leisure on the surface, but Lord Grantham’s sense of responsibility to his employees and his hard work running the estate is a recurring theme. Even the girls are expected to work hard at ladylike endeavors, including charity work.

Well, Eliot was apparently an energetic volunteer fireman, in addition to listening to sob stories and doling out small amounts of cash to the poor.

I’d say only Atlas. Of her 3 main fictional books:

  • We the Living doesn’t have any rich people.

  • Most of the rich in The Fountainhead are portrayed negatively. The hero becomes successful eventually, but for most of the book is poor-- sometimes dirt poor.

  • Atlas has a fair number of rich people portrayed positively, but at least as many portrayed negatively.

The Blacklist? Raymond Reddington hands out suitcases full of money all the time.

Where’s the drama/conflict in that? That would be more to be expected in an admiring biopic, and even admiring biopics will find some warts/feet of clay to throw in in order to not come across as a hagiography.

I’d say in fictional world-building unless there is a plot point to be made about what an exemplar of excellence or what a slacker a character is, we presume that s/he does their job or runs their business as well as anyone else and there’s no point to be made in gushing about it. If a character is generally presented as having started a prosperous business, we don’t need to watch her working late nights on the books and going into the production line to solve problems unless those traits of her character will be relevant to the plot.

The Cosby Show? Doesn’t show Cliff and Claire at work a ton, but when it does they obviously are good at their jobs and work hard (and long hours, as one would expect from an obstetrician and a lawyer.)