I spent the weekend creating and updating enough financial spreadsheets to make my eyes cross. It's tax time, and this week, my favorite person is the accountant who will make sense of all these numbers and hopefully do magical yet legal things with them that will prevent me from having to write too ginormous a check to the IRS. I know I'm not the only one who's thinking happy thoughts about tax accountants and the nobility of their profession right now. As Max Bialystock says in The Producers (1968), the word "count" is in their title.
I remember watching The Producers as a teenager and thinking that I wanted to be anything in a life rather than an accountant. One of my favorite scenes in movies ever is that scene at the Lincoln Center fountain: "You think you're not in prison now? Living in a gray little room, going to a gray little job, leading a gray little life?" "I spend my life counting other people's money. People I'm smarter than. Better than." Some of that rubbed off at the time. Decades later, however, sitting here in my gray little house (actually it's yellow and green), I have nothing but respect for people whose genius with numbers makes my life easier.
Hollywood has shown us a variety of accountants, tax men and number-crunchers through the years. Some are mousy creatures whose lives will change drastically. Some are bad guys, determined to drive our heroes into bankruptcy. A few are just plain nice folks. Most tend to be men -- I'm a little sorry I can't find more female accountant characters, and researching this has made me determined to see the Japanese film A Taxing Woman. Here are seven of the most memorable -- if not always likeable -- bookkeepers, accountants and IRS officials in film.