Variety brings us news today that Milos Forman, director of great films like Amadeus and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, is set to tackle an adaptation of Mitchell Zuckoff‘s book Ponzi’s Scheme: The True Story of a Financial Legend. The film will centre around con artist Charles Ponzi, the man behind the Ponzi Scheme.
Ponzi came to America in 1903 and developed a couple sketchy ‘get rich quick’ schemes. Eventually this grew into the Ponzi Scheme, which is used quite frequently in today’s business world to defraud people. The script is penned by Christopher Weekes and it all sounds pretty interesting to me. Forman has made some great films and this material sounds really intriguing. It’s also quite relevant in today’s world, especially with the whole financial meltdown a few years ago.
Amazon describes the novel as follows:
Before Charles Ponzi sailed from Italy to the shores of America in 1903, his father assured him that the streets were really paved with gold – and that Ponzi would be able to get a piece. As journalist Zuckoff observes in this engaging and fast-paced biography, Ponzi learned as soon as he disembarked that though the streets were often cobblestone, he could still make a fortune in a culture caught in the throes of the Gilded Age. Zuckoff deftly chronicles Ponzi’s mercurial rise and fall as he conjured up one get-rich-quick scheme after another. Charming, gregarious and popular, Ponzi devised and carried out the scheme that carries his name in 1920 in the open (and with a brief period of approval from Boston’s newspapers and financial sector). Many investors did indeed double their investments, as Ponzi would use money of new investors to pay old investors, and Ponzi himself became a millionaire. Eventually, Zuckoff shows, the Boston Post uncovered this “robbing Peter to pay Paul” system (as it was then known), and Ponzi’s life unraveled. Zuckoff provides not only a definitive portrait of Ponzi’s life but also insights into immigrant life and the social world of early 20th-century Boston.