Accountants don’t usually get to carry shotguns on the job, but that’s a perk that comes with being one of the Untouchables, as Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith, pictured, on the far right) finds out when Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) recruits him onto his team of incorruptible G-men enforcing Prohibition. In David Mamet’s screenplay, being an accountant is both exciting and dangerous; after all, the movie’s big climactic set piece (the one director Brian De Palma lifted from the famed “Odessa Steps” sequence of The Battleship Potemkin) involves the Untouchables’ interception and capture of a fugitive Mob accountant.
Oscar himself discovers just how dangerous his line of work is when Al Capone’s men ambush him in an elevator. Still, before his heroic martyrdom, he’s the one who comes up with the brilliant (and ultimately effective) idea of prosecuting Capone for the prosaic crime of tax evasion. Give credit to Smith, who, after playing the nerd who gets the girl in American Graffiti, specialized in making dweebiness look adventurous.