First there is the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, always filled with frenetic people. Then there are the dance floors of various night spots where frantic couples do the Charleston. When the camera switches from one to the other, as it does constantly, you are supposed to surmise that (1) the bubble is getting closer to bursting and (2) rich people are continuing their frivolous existence, unaware that the bubble is about to burst.
The bubble, of course, is the uncontrolled stock market.
If that seems simplistic, well, ''The Day the Bubble Burst'' (based on a book by the same name, by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts) is a very simplistic film, filled with simple-minded investors and embezzlers.
If you are a small investor in the stock market today, ''TDTBB'' may scare you -- unless you are also aware that the market is now supposed to have built-in controls that make it ''practically impossible'' to duplicate that day in 1929 when ''the bubble burst.''
All of the characters are played with simplistic, stock-company charm by such usually capable actors as Blanche Baker and Richard Crenna. This time they are supposed to be based on real characters who are either heroes or villains - depending upon their attitudes toward money. So you can spot the greedy villains by the size of their wallets or the expertise of their Charlestons. The script was written by Stanley R. Greenberg and directed by Joseph Hardy, both of whom have done much better in the past.
A serious documentary on ''TDTBB'' might be worth an hour or two of television time, provided it contained serious attempts to explain what happened and why, which might somehow relate to current market conditions. But this ''TDTBB'' is simply a series of episodic cliches, strung together by the hot breath of money lust.
Watching it may not prevent you from investing in the market in the future, but it may very well teach you not to turn the dial to overhyped, overlong three-hour specials, of which there are now far too many.