Top 10: Accountants in the history of cinema

Accounts / Tax
Joe Phelan's picture
Listing ten of the greatest accountants to ever grace the silver screen.

Film – Nick of Time (1995)
Character – Gene Watson
Actor – Johnny Depp
Trailer – Watch here

Depp plays an accountant – who, for some reason, isn’t called Nick - that inadvertently gets caught up in a plot to assassinate a senior politician. Some VERY bad men have kidnapped Depp’s daughter, and have vowed to kill her should he fail to end the governor’s life. The film, shown in ‘real time’, involves Depp attempting to escape from his predicament, which mainly involves him running down corridors while looking a bit confused. At one stage someone gets thrown into a fountain, which is without doubt the movie’s standout moment. Well, that and Christopher Walken’s sterling moustache.

Film – Stranger Than Fiction (2006)
Character - Harold Crick
Actor – Will Ferrell
Trailer – Watch here

This film, which is arguably Will Ferrell’s greatest achievement as an actor, was criminally overlooked by cinemagoers despite strong reviews. Ferrell plays a mundane accountant whose life is thrown into disarray courtesy of two major events; he falls in love, and starts to hear voices in his head. The film, which also includes standout performances from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, is bound to become a cult classic in years to come.

Film - Carnal Knowledge (1971)
Character - Jonathan
Actor - Jack Nicholson
Trailer – Watch here

Released four years prior to the sublime One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Carnal Knowledge is a lesser known but equally stellar example of Nicholson’s supreme acting powers. The film deals with, amongst other things, relationships, the eventual collapse of those relationships, love, sex and the plethora of issues associated with growing older. Though the film is 35 years old, many of the themes and subject matters tackled are still wholly relevant today.

Film - The Dueling Accountant (2008)
Character - Mungo MacDiamond
Actor - Jeremy Fonicello
Trailer – Watch here

What would a film be like if it was directed by Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and the Coen brothers, but they were only handed a budget of £50 and were barred from hiring decent actors? Look no further than The Dueling Accountant, a 2008 masterpiece that sees a lonely accountant forced to take part in a sword fight. As is the case with the majority of accountants, Mungo (played by Jeremy Fonicello) has very little experience when it comes to the ancient art of swordplay, and spends much of the movie being tricked and coerced into situations to which he is not accustomed. To my mind, this is the best film about an accountant training to become a master swordsman that has ever been made. Bar none.

Film – Dead Man (1995)
Character – William Blake
Actor – Johnny Depp
Trailer – Watch here

Shot entirely in black and white, this surreal drama flopped at the box office despite boasting a stellar cast including Johnny Depp, Billy Bob Thornton, John Hurt, Gabriel Byrne and Iggy Pop, and with the added bonus of a haunting soundtrack written and performed by Neil Young. William Blake (Depp) is an accountant that finds himself on the run after committing a murder, and ends up taking a bizarre journey through the extreme western frontiers of America accompanied by an oddball Native American called Nobody. The film was widely lambasted by critics upon its release but has since become something of a cult classic, with New York Times chief film critic A. O. Scott recently calling the movie ‘one of the greatest films of the 1990s’.

Film – The Producers (1967)
Character – Leo Bloom
Actor – Gene Wilder
Trailer – Watch here

Theatrical producer Max Bialystock and accountant Leo Bloom, both looking to make a quick buck, decide that producing a sure-fire Broadway flop will result in them earning a fortune. By employing that sort of logic, what could possibly go wrong? Gene Wilder, known by millions for his slightly creepy, slightly psychotic depiction of iconic Roald Dahl creation Willy Wonka, shines as the timid and bumbling Bloom in this Mel Brooks classic, and is more than a match for Zero Mostel’s Max Bialystock in terms of screen presence. If you’re looking for a film that highlights the folly of hiring a crooked accountant, then look no further.

Film – The Untouchables (1987)
Character – Oscar Wallace
Actor – Charles Martin Smith
Trailer – Watch here

When you think about this ‘80s classic, it’s likely your mind will be filled with guns, gangs and, of course, a fedora-wearing, pipe-smoking accountant. Oscar Wallace (played by Charles Martin Smith) is part of a crack team sent to Chicago to take down crime legend Al Capone. If you haven’t seen this film, then you really should; not only is a gun-toting number cruncher one of the primary characters, but it also contains Kevin Costner’s second greatest acting display (beaten only by his 1991 portrayal of Robin Hood, obviously).

Film – Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Character - Andy Dufresne
Actor - Tim Robbins
Trailer – Watch here

Ok, so Andy Dufresne isn’t an accountant to begin with, but he certainly transforms himself into an accounting god during his spell behind bars. This cinematic classic, which for some reason was a box office failure upon its release – I’m looking at you, Generation X – centres on all-round nice guy Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins) as he comes to terms with being wrongly imprisoned for murder. Morgan Freeman also shines as perennial inmate Red, while Clancy Brown’s Captain Hadley is the perfect movie baddie.

Film – Ghostbusters (1984)
Character - Louis Tully
Actor - Rick Moranis
Trailer – Watch here

Never before, nor since, has a film done so much to debunk the myth that accountants are ‘boring’. Louis Tully, wearer of shiny shirts, master of financial advice and close friend of the Ghostbusters, is a man with his head firmly screwed on. He’s good with numbers, knows a thing or two about how to get a discount on just about anything, and certainly ain’t afraid of no ghost. Louis Tully is, without a doubt, one of cinema’s coolest creations.

Film - Schindler’s List (1993)
Character - Itzhak Stern
Actor - Ben Kingsley
Trailer – Watch here

Not only is Itzhak Stern the greatest accountant in all of cinema, he’s arguably one of the most important accountants to have ever lived. Stern, a Jew who worked for German industrialist Oskar Schindler, helped around 1,200 Jewish people obtain jobs during World War II, thereby giving them protected status as industrial workers. Without assistance from Stern and Schindler, it is likely they would have been sent to their deaths by the Nazis.

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