"Lights, Camera, Accountants"

BY VINCE NOLAN

If it’s true that art imitates life, then CPAs and accountants have been immortalized on celluloid since the early days of the medium. Here are some films that feature members of the profession—for better or for worse.

We Who Are Young (1940) Lana Turner and John Shelton play poor newlyweds who both work at an accounting firm in New York City and are struggling to survive during the Great Depression. The firm’s “no-marrieds” rule costs Lana her job, while John loses his for demanding a raise to support his pregnant wife. This situation strains their marriage, but in true MGM musical style, all’s well that ends well—even when the stork delivers twins.

Scarlet Street (1945) Timid accountant and amateur painter Edward G. Robinson embezzles money from his employer to finance a lavish apartment for his mistress—to whom he poses as a famous painter. When he finds she and a thuggish boyfriend have been making money by selling his art and grabbing the credit, he kills her.

The Producers (1968) Zero Mostel, the Broadway producer, and Gene Wilder, his neurotic accountant, deliberately stage a flop to swindle their investors—and wind up in jail where they stage another for the same reason.

Snowball Express (1972) Disney cast Dean Jones as a New York accountant who quits his job and moves to the Rocky Mountains to run a newly inherited ski resort.

The Main Event (1979) Barbra Streisand goes broke when her accountant flees to South America with her money, leaving her just one asset: a contract with reluctant prizefighter Ryan O’Neal, with whom she falls in love.

The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983) Sail “the wide accountantcy” with Monty Python’s short film about accountants who start a mutiny and turn pirates when one of their own is discharged. It’s a story of the old regime versus the new corporate order.

Moonstruck (1987) Cher plays a widowed Brooklyn bookkeeper who finds true love with her fianc’s estranged brother and also learns nothing can take the place of family—even when her aunt and uncle mistakenly accuse her of embezzling their deli’s profits.

The Untouchables (1987) Robert DeNiro plays Al Capone, the most notorious tax-evader of them all, brought down by Treasury agent and accountant Oscar Wallace. Kevin Costner does an impressive turn as dedicated federal agent Eliot Ness.

Midnight Run (1988) Robert DeNiro returns, again at odds with an accountant, playing a bounty hunter hired to find and bring in bail-jumping mob accountant Charles Grodin, who stole millions from his boss to donate to charity.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) Joe Pesci steals the show in this sequel playing a mob accountant whom Mel Gibson and Danny Glover must protect until he testifies against his former bosses.

She-Devil (1989) Roseanne Barr, playing the title role in this comedy, comes up with a plan to teach her philandering accountant husband a lesson—by framing him for embezzlement.

Look Who’s Talking (1989) Kirstie Alley stars as an accountant who has a baby with married client George Segal, but falls in love with cab driver John Travolta. And, by the way, the audience can hear the baby’s thoughts. Note: Watch for Kirstie Alley’s movie father chuckling over a copy of the Journal of Accountancy.

Look Who’s Talking Too (1990) In this sequel Kirstie Alley reprises her role as Mollie the accountant, now married to John Travolta. Bruce Willis returns as the voice of her son, Mikey, and Roseanne Barr joins the cast as the voice of Mollie’s second-born, Julie, who also can verbalize her thoughts.

The Hot Spot (1990) Used car salesman and aspiring bank robber Don Johnson is conflicted about his evil deeds after he falls head over heels for the accountant at the dealership where they both work.

Strike It Rich (1990) A London accountant honeymooning in the south of France with his American bride, played by Molly Ringwald, nearly gambles away his marriage when he spends more time in the casinos than with her.

Pure Luck (1991) In this lightweight comedy, Martin Short is a hapless accountant sent to Mexico with private eye Danny Glover to find his boss’s missing daughter.

Nickel & Dime (1992) C. Thomas Howell hasn’t forked over taxes in eight years—thanks to CPA Wallace Shawn—but now it’s time to pay the piper.

Dave (1993) Kevin Kline plays a look-alike hired to impersonate the president of the United States in this smart political satire. Kline enlists his best friend and accountant, Charles Grodin, to help cut unnecessary expenditures and find funds for First Lady Sigourney Weaver’s pet project.

Look Who’s Talking Now (1993) In the third film in this franchise, talking babies are replaced by talking dogs as Mollie loses her job at the accounting firm and becomes a stay-at-home mom.

Nick of Time (1995) Johnny Depp is Gene Watson, a public accountant who is strong-armed into assassinating Governor Grant, played by Marsha Mason, to save his kidnapped daughter.

The Accountant (1999) During a night in jail, Andrew Calver, an accountant on the verge of financial ruin, is befriended by a man known only as the Accountant, with whom he plots to rob his boss.

The Accountant (2001) Ray McKinnon plays the lead in this satirical short film about a hard-drinking, chain-smoking rural U.S. accountant who advises mostly farming clients. He radically alters the rules, within the boundaries of the law, to save their family farms from bankruptcy.

Confidence (2003) A con man, played by Edward Burns, goes into debt to the Mafia after his latest victim turns out to be a mob accountant. How can he repay the loan? By running another scam, of course.

Hitch (2005) Accountant Kevin James hires dating consultant Will Smith to help him win the heart of a beautiful heiress. Note: Watch for James’s AICPA mug!

—Vince Nolan

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