Accountants in the Movies
In Hollywood, accounting can seem like a pretty glamorous profession, or not.
Some of Hollywood's biggest stars and favorite comedians have played accountants over the years. Here's a look back at some of the more memorable stars who have crunched the numbers on film.
Gene Wilder co-starred as accountant Leo Bloom in "The Producers," the 1968 Mel Brooks madcap comedy. Teamed with Zero Mostel (left) as Max Bialystock, the womanizing theatrical impresario, they try to create the biggest flop ever to hit Broadway, a musical tribute to Adolf Hitler. Their roles were later reprised by Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in a hit Broadway musical and a 2005 remake.
Charles Grodin plays Jonathan "The Duke" Mardukas, an accountant for the Mob who gets nabbed by bounty hunter Jack Walsh, played by Robert De Niro in the 1988 comedy-action hit "Midnight Run." To collect the $100,000 bounty on the Duke's head, De Niro needs to get him from New York to LA, but the Mafia and the FBI are both on their tails. Grodin made a bit of a mini-career out of playing accountants. In the 1993 flick "Dave," he appeared as CPA Murray Blum. In one scene, Murray the accountant helped President Dave Kovic, played by Kevin Kline, find an extra $650 million in the federal budget to open homeless shelters. We could use him in Washington now.
Rick Moranis played Sigourney Weaver's accountant neighbor and admirer Louis Tully in the 1984 comedy classic "Ghostbusters." Possessed by a demonic ghost, Louis is transformed from a mild-mannered accountant into the "Keymaster" and needs the help of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and the rest of the ghost-busting crew (along with their Proton Packs). Moranis reprised the role in the 1989 sequel "Ghostbusters II" and hopefully will come out of retirement to appear in "Ghostbusters III," which is set to be released next year.
Kirstie Alley stars as New York accountant Mollie Jensen in the 1989 romantic comedy "Look Who's Talking." She meets cab driver John Travolta when she needs to get to the hospital in a hurry because she's about to have a baby. Travolta helps her bring up the baby, but the real father is her tax client George Segal. The baby's voice also sounds strangely like Bruce Willis. Alley reprised the part of Mollie in the 1990 sequel "Look Who's Talking Too," in which Roseanne Barr joined Willis in providing the voice of another of Mollie's kids. The 1993 threequel "Look Who's Talking Now" added the voices of Diane Keaton and Danny DeVito, but this time as Mollie's dogs.
Will Ferrell plays lonely IRS agent Harold Crick in the 2006 comedy-drama "Stranger Than Fiction." Harold has been assigned to audit Maggie Gyllenhaal, and falls in love with her. However, he keeps hearing a strange British-sounding voice in his head, and he discovers it's author Emma Thompson, whom he tracks down through her tax records. Turns out she has been writing about his life and trying to decide how he will die in her next book.
Charles Martin Smith (far right) played accountant Oscar Wallace in the 1987 movie version of "The Untouchables," a popular TV series that ran from 1959-1963. Wallace joins a team organized by Treasury agent Elliot Ness, played by Kevin Costner, to break up Al Capone's mob in Prohibition-era Chicago. They finally put Capone behind bars for tax evasion. Capone was played by Robert De Niro. Other members of Ness's Untouchables included Sean Connery and Andy Garcia. Wallace was based on a real-life accountant named Frank J. Wilson who joined the Treasury Department's Intelligence Unit in 1920 and later helped nab Lindbergh baby kidnapper Bruno Hauptmann by insisting that the serial numbers on the ransom money be properly recorded. Wilson later became chief of the Secret Service.
Edmund O'Brien plays accountant Frank Bigelow in the fast-paced 1950 film noir crime drama "D.O.A." The movie opens with Bigelow entering a police station to report his own homicide and then in flashback traces how he came to learn that he had been poisoned by a former client who needed him to notarize an incriminating document. The movie was later remade in 1988 with Dennis Quaid playing O'Brien's role, but in the remake Quaid is a college professor. O'Brien is shown here with Laurette Luez, who plays his client's mistress Marla Rakubian.
Ben Kingsley played compassionate accountant Itzhak Stern in the Oscar-winning 1993 Steven Spielberg movie, "Schindler's List." Stern was a real-life accountant who worked for German industrialist Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson. The accountant typed and maintained the list of names of his fellow Jews who were hired to work in Schindler's factories, preventing them from being sent to the Nazi death camps. The real Itzhak Stern appeared in the movie, along with the surviving people on Oskar Schindler's real-life list.
Danny Glover played bow-tied accountant Henry Sherman in Wes Anderson's 2001 comedy about an eccentric family of upper-class misfits. Besides doing the accounting, Henry also romances the matriarch of the family, Etheline Tenenbaum, played by Anjelica Huston. Other members of the all-star cast included Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson, along with the voice of narrator Alec Baldwin.
Jack Lemmon plays an accountant in the 1954 comedy "Phffft!" who decides to split with wife Judy Holliday after eight years of marriage. He met her while doing her taxes, and even after they break up and start seeing other partners, he continues to keep her as a client. The unusual title is supposed to be the sound of a marriage losing steam. Lemmon also played an accountant in Billy Wilder's 1960 comedy, "The Apartment," in which he lends his apartment to boss Fred MacMurray for assignations with girlfriend Shirley Maclaine. The movie was later the basis of the musical "Promises, Promises."