The Greatest Rags To Riches Movies

Posted on: 29 June 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves

To celebrate the UK release of Rudi & Cursi, a comedy about two rival brothers trying to make it in the world of football, set in Mexico starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, we’ve put together a list of ten great rags to riches films.

Rags to riches refers to any situation in which a person rises from poverty to wealth, or sometimes from obscurity to fame. This is a common archetype in literature and popular culture.

These stories give the poor hope that they can rise to fame and wealth. They are most popular in societies such as the United States, where confidence in the ability to move between social classes is an important part of the national identity, of which lays the foundation of the "American Dream".

Many stories feature a "rags to riches" theme; here are our ten favourite rags to riches films. Do you agree?

Rudo & Cursi

Rudo and Cursi are two brothers who couldn‘t be more different, yet both of them want to make it big.

When a top football scout arrives in town and notices the two brothers‘skill on the field, he takes them to Mexico City to play in the big leagues. But the fame, riches, fast cars and beautiful women make them lose sight of their roots and intensify their rivalry as their two teams prepare for a decisive match.


Musical adaptation of Charles Dickens's classic tale of an orphan who runs away from the orphanage and hooks up with a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor. Oliver goes on a journey that starts in the slums of London.

Trading Places

Two commodity brokers bet they can take a common criminal and make him a successful businessman in the company. The criminal, Billy Ray, is to be given the job and home of Louis, who in turn is set up for crimes he didn't commit, to see if he resorts to crime once he's lost his rich environment and friends


A Cuban refugee, Tony Montana, and his close friend, Manny Ray, build a strong drug empire in Miami together. Of course Montana must deal with the hardships of this type of business. As Montana's power begins to grow so does his ego and his paranoia.

The Pursuit Of Happiness

Struggling to make ends meet, Chris Gardner finds himself and his five-year-old son evicted from their apartment with nowhere to go. When Gardner lands an internship at a prestigious stock brokerage firm, he and his son endure many hardships, including living in shelters, in pursuit of his dream of a better life for the two of them.

My Fair Lady            

A snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society. He proposes to transform the girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a refined Victorian lady with an aristocratic accent. After some hesitation Eliza agrees to become their test case.

Boiler Room 

A morally decent college dropout finds himself at conflict with his harsh federal judge father. He gets a job as a stock broker and gets on the fast track to success. Only things take a turn for the worst when he learns that his job isn't what's it cracked up to be.

Willy Wonka

Charlie, a very poor boy, along with four somewhat odious other children, get the chance of a lifetime – a tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Along the way, mild disasters befall each of the odious children, but can Charlie beat the odds and grab the brass ring?

Pretty Woman

The ruthless and wealthy businessman, Edward Lewis, meets Vivian Ward, a struggling prostitute. Edward hires Vivian to be his girlfriend for a week while he traverses the local social circles. Love and various social complications invade their tidy arrangement and have the pair wondering if this Cinderella-story could have a happy ending.


Living with a cruel stepmother and two stepsisters, Cinderella longs for a better life.  After a visit from her fairy Godmother, she attends the king’s annual ball where she meets the prince and falls in love. At the stroke of midnight, she rushes away, leaving the prince with the task of finding the maiden who fits the glass slipper left behind.


Annie lives in an orphanage run by gin-swigging tyrant Miss Hannigan. Annie yearns to find her long-lost parents and escape. Her luck changes when she is befriended by the billionaire businessman, Daddy Warbucks, but the evil Miss Hannigan is determined to spoil the fun.  

Rudo & Cursi is released in cinemas today, 26 June 2009.

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