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Off the Books vs. The Shawshank Redemption

Key Takeaways

Mike pits Catherine and Steve up against fan favorite The Shawshank Redemption as they search for the best accounting movie of all time. Does this Stephen King adaptation count as an accounting movie? Does its beloved reputation make sense? Is there ever such thing as TOO much Morgan Freeman narration? Tune in for the answers to all of the questions and more!


Season 3, Episode 17: Off the Books vs. The Shawshank Redemption | Transcript


Mike: Hello, and welcome to Off the Books where we surf the unchartered waters of accounting, finance, risk, and wherever else the waves take us. This episode is brought to you by Workiva, the ESG risk reporting and compliance platform that simplifies your complex work and tells you what summer blockbusters are worth investing time in. Check it out at I am your host for the day, Mike Gravagno. I'm one of the off the books producers—recovering Cherry Coke addict, and I'm looking forward to debiting a great conversation. Very glad to have you hang ten with us. Joining me are Steve Soter and Catherine Tsai, and we're going to be diving into our accounting movie bracket with our top seed, The Shawshank Redemption. Are you guys ready? Are you pumped?


Catherine: I'm ready.


Steve: I think I'm ready. I think he's just riffed on the intro, which has totally thrown me off. So, let's see how this goes.


Mike: Well, this whole thing's a riff, Steve. This is all designed to shake you guys up, get you out of your comfort zone.


Steve: Mission accomplished.


Catherine: I'm excited for it. I think our listeners are probably excited for it too because I already saw some comments from people talking about best accounting movies. They're questioning our judgment already.


Mike: Oh, there's feedback from listeners, and maybe we'll end up doing a bonus non-bracketed show because there are dozens of complaints that The Dark Knight is not on our bracket.


Steve: And that The Accountant didn't make it.


Mike: And that The Accountant didn't make it.


Steve: Into the beat.


Mike: The Accountant, I think, is probably a bigger deal than The Dark Knight, but The Dark Knight fans are vocal.


Steve: Yeah, you've got my head spinning on The Dark Knight. I'm trying to connect those dots, but now is neither the time nor the place.


Mike: No, that is its own show. If you're confused at what's happening, dear listener, I would say go back to the, I think it's called, the "Best Accounting Movies of All Time." And that explains what we'll be doing here. So, we are diving into The Shawshank Redemption. It's our number one seed, and Steve, let's start with you. What is your general overall relationship with this movie?


Steve: Well, hey, look, movie's got to take me to dinner first before there's a relationship. I'll tell you that much but—yeah, thank you. I'll be here all week. But I was actually surprised, pleasantly surprised at how accounting of a movie it was. I will admit I was very skeptical, as I was on several of the movies when we went through that initial run-through. Now, after having watched the movie, I can solidly say this is an accounting movie. It plays a very strong part in it. And for that, as well as a whole other lot of reasons, I was pleasantly surprised with the movie and enjoyed it quite a bit.


Mike: I'm glad we got your accounting stamp of approval, Steve.


Steve: Thank you.


Mike: Catherine, what about you? What's your relationship? Did you see it in theaters? Longtime fan?


Catherine: I did not see it in theaters, but I've seen it many times. And what I didn't realize, because there was a point in time where you could just turn on your TV and there was a 50/50 chance that this movie would be on, but what I didn't realize until I was preparing for this podcast episode was that I have never seen this movie all the way through from beginning to end until now.


Mike: Yes, I agree. There are definitely sections that I was like, "What?" I don't think I've seen this since high school. I hated it then. And guys.


Catherine: I can't believe you hated it.


Mike: My opinion has not changed.


Steve: Yeah? What's what? No kidding.


Mike: Well, we'll get into why. We'll get in the details. Overall, I just don't think it's a—it's not what I look for in a movie. And we'll talk about why. We'll get into it the why later and throughout the questions. Should we take a quick break? Splash water in our face and then just come back and get into it?


Steve: Sounds like a plan to me.


Mike: Based on Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, the 1994 film titled simply The Shawshank Redemption follows banker Andy Dufresne after he is sentenced  to life in prison for the murders of his wife and her lover. At Shawshank, he befriends Red, learns a little about camaraderie, a lot about himself, and helps the warden launder money for decades. Written and directed by Frank Darabont, Shawshank had middling reception when it came out, but it has since risen in the steam of the public and critics. Bookies, now I'm calling the two of you "bookies." That's a cute nickname you will have forevermore. Bookies, I ask you this. The first topic is the accounting of it all. Can we put it to rest that this is not an accounting movie? How different would the movie be without Andy's accounting knowledge?


Steve: Well, it would be drastically different. I mean, should we be avoiding spoilers?


Mike: No, this movie's from '94. Okay. Spoil anything.


Steve: Well, hey. Well, I hadn't seen it so, I don't know, but were it not for the accounting, I think the outcome would be completely different, right? The accounting was the thing that sort of got him on the separate path than the other prisoners, which really opened the door for, you know, what happened later. I mean, Catherine, what am I missing?


Catherine: He does many accounting type things. I know if you go back to that first episode where you looked at all 32 accounting movies, I know you had mentioned he's just the vice president of a bank, and does he really have an accounting background? But he does many accounting type things in this movie, I think.


Steve: Well, you know what? As we were watching it, I will confess, as I was watching it—by the way, it was hard to find a semi-edited version of the video, of the movie. I hope you don't think any less of me, so maybe I missed some stuff. But as I was watching it, I was actually taking notes. My very first note: this guy is not an accountant. Second note: he knows a little bit of tax. Good for him. Third note: holy crap, this guy is really doing accounting. Last note: this guy is a controller, treasurer, tax director, and CFO—solidly an accounting movie. So, I think we can absolutely—


Mike: I am. I'm so happy, because I felt nervous after making that list and so many of them, steve, you're like, "That's not an accounting movie." I was like maybe I just hear numbers and think it's accounting, but I'm so glad that at least that our number one seed is solidly an accounting movie. And yeah, he starts with—I forget the head guard's name—but he starts with a creepy guard, and he's just like, "Here's how you get that money you're going to win from your brother's estate."


Steve: Captain Hadley.


Mike: Captain Hadley, here's how you're going to hold on to the whole $32,000. And that not only, I think, sets him for how he's going to be relating to the prisoner and the guards and the warden, but also the prisoners all start liking him after that. That's the first time they're like, "Oh, maybe this guy isn't just some quiet wimp." So, I think not only is it important in accounting, but it's important to the plot of the film and his relationship to the world he's now in.


Steve: Completely agree.


Mike: So it makes me very happy, Steve. And I wish you were still trying to fight it, so I could rub your nose in it more.


Steve: Well, now I'm wondering what other hidden gems we have buried in the list of movies we're going to be watching.


Mike: We'll find out. Maybe Ghostbusters also hinges heartily on accounting. Now, once he becomes the prisoners' accountant and he also becomes the prisoners' library and then is also tutoring and teaching people. One of the things, Steve, you had issues with is how many accounting stereotypes there were. And does this kind of mentor teach everybody about life and everything? Does that feel stereotypical, or does that feel very specific to Andy Dufresne?


Steve: I think that's specific to Andy Dufresne, although any accountant out there who's worth her or his soul must have been asked some tax question at some point along the way or, you know, some banking or whatever kind of question. And so I think accountants often get put into that situation, an expectation that they would know the answer to those things. But in my view, what Andy Dufresne was doing, I think, was pretty specific to Andy Dufresne. I, for one, have never helped somebody get their G.E.D. I have helped my children get high school diplomas, but never helped fellow prisoners get a G.E.D.


Mike: Catherine, can you see Steve in this kind of role? If he was also unjustly thrown in jail, do you think he would become the librarian tax guru/teacher?


Catherine: Oh, I can totally see Steve being a mentor. There is a big—we can edit this out Steve. I'm so sorry. I mean, there's a big height difference, right, between Andy Dufresne and Steve Soter.


Steve: There's an enormous height difference.


Mike: Is there any, like monetarily accounting trick Andy Dufresne pulled off that made you go, "I never thought about something that way"? Catherine?


Catherine: Oh, well, I would never do this in real life, but just the way he was talking about how you could keep all of this money and not have to pay taxes on it if you do x, y, z. I would never do that in real life. I also did have another accounting question though, unrelated to the plot, because there's this great opening shot, kind of towards the beginning—maybe not an opening shot—where they have the outside of the prison and then they kind of go and do an overhead into the prison yard. And I was thinking this movie is from 1994. They probably didn't have a bunch of drones, so that was probably a really expensive helicopter shot. How much money do you think they spent on that opening shot?


Steve: I have no idea what they would have spent on that. It couldn't be cheap.


Mike: I would say, yeah. It's a helicopter or a crane. Probably for how it swoops, it feels more helicopter, right? $50,000, $70,000 easy, just on that one shot.


Catherine: It's got be a few thousand dollars just to get the helicopter off the ground, I would think.


Mike: And then you have to move it left to right. It's crazy.


Catherine: Yeah, I know we're getting away from the plot, so I don't want to do that.


Mike: Oh, no, that's fine. Steve, any accounting tricks that you would use in the future or would not use but they are also good to know? Anything that surprised you?


Steve: Well, not that I am a money laundering expert by any means. I'm not. I still would question how this whole, you know, well, hey, we created this alias, or this person, who Andy Dufresne later became, how exactly that happened and how, you know, that wouldn't have triggered some kind of, I don't know. This was in the '40s and '50s and '60s, so that probably had as much to do with it as anything.


Mike: I feel like crime was just easier then.


Steve: Probably. I do have some questions about that. But actually, here's the thing, Catherine. I would just say as an observation to your comment just now, "Hey, I would never do that." I think Andy's point was actually, "Hey, look, if you don't believe me, call the IRS. Like this is the rule." And the fact that he knew that and nobody else did obviously served him extremely well. So it's not even like there was anything shady that he was proposing.


Mike: Yeah, the inciting incident of telling Hadley to gift the money to his wife. Is that true? Like, if say, heaven forbid, a dear, rich relative of mine dies and I get money, can I just give it to my wife? And I don't have to pay taxes on it?


Steve: Oh, I actually have no idea. I don't like taxes. And taxes don't like me.


Mike: That's right. I remember you saying, "I've never done my own taxes."


Steve: Yes, that's correct. So I'm not quite sure. And the rules about gifting, I do know have changed over the years.


Mike: Again, it was the '40s. Everything was easy, a simpler time. Eh, not for everybody.


Steve: Except being a prisoner.


Mike: I think that is—we've squeezed as much accounting talk as we can out of this. Workiva in-booth producers saying they will now underwrite this episode. We are good to go to just talk about it like a movie. We're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, we're going to talk about why this movie's so well loved.


Mike: This next segment I'm calling, "There's No Accounting for Taste" or "Why Shawshank Redemption's So Loved These Days." As I said earlier, critical and public perception of this movie shifted since its release. It was pretty middling. A lot of people are like, "Okay, it's fine" in 1994. Since then, it's been on so many versions of AFI's top 100. It was on Ebert's list of great movies in 1999. Darabont's screenplay was placed on WGA's 101 Greatest Screenplays in 2005. So what is it about this movie that makes it so well loved? And do you think that's deserved?


Steve: Well, we know you don't think it's deserved.


Mike: Sure, I gave up the ghost early on in the show.


Steve: Well, well you did. And actually, I mean, I don't mean to, like, go straight to that. I'm dying to know. What's your beef with The Shawshank Redemption, Mike?


Mike: I care about characters more than plot generally. I'm totally that pretentious guy who's up his own butt who's just like, oh, nothing happened, but they talked at a diner for a half, like, 45 minutes of the movie. I'm into it. I don't think any character feels three dimensional here. I don't think Red or Andy arc. Red is definitely the same in the beginning movie as is end of the movie. Andy is a little more confident, but I don't think he goes through a big change. So like, I don't know what protagonist I'm supposed to latch on to. There's a puzzle box of how is Andy going to get out? And that's fun. I hate narration. I think it's normally ill used, and I love Morgan Freeman's dulcet tones, but he does not stop telling you. The filmmakers feel so afraid that the audience might be lost for a second that Morgan Freeman doesn't take a breath.


Catherine: There is a lot of narration in this movie, I would say. Voice over.


Steve: Yeah. Look, let me—not "challenge" because that's too strong a word in this friendly discussion that we're having.


Mike: Challenge away.


Steve: But if you think about the whole notion of, hey, hope is bad and you're never going to get out of here and nothing's going to change, and over the course of your time in prison, you're actually going to rely on that for a sense of security. We saw what happened with Brooks, which was super key. I think he actually might be my favorite character out of all.


Mike: Yes, agree.


Steve: But then we saw what was kind of starting to happen with Red. Don't you think that at least Red not arcing was kind of the point, perhaps?


Mike: Oh, that's a good challenge, Steve. And then at the end, he kind of does he goes from not hope to hope, but I guess that you don't see other than him being like, "I guess now I will go to Mexico." I just want to see it more than be told he has believed in hope now. I feel like so much of this movie is them telling us because it was adapted from a written work. They didn't want to internalize anything, and there's so little showing in this cinematic thing. And for me, if you're going to make a movie, it should be about showing. But I think that's a good argument that Red's not supposed to arc that much. That's a good point.


Steve: But despite that argument, I actually tend to agree with you. And in a more superficial not arcing, I'm looking at their face and their hair color and the lack of wrinkles. I'm like, bull crap that it's been 10 years. This guy's been in here for, like, 10 days. He looks exactly the same.


Mike: Especially at the end. Tim Robbins in Mexico. And I think they were trying to show like, look how free he looks. But he looks the youngest he's ever looked in any movie when he's in Mexico.


Steve: Yes, that's right.


Mike: Catherine, what about you? Do you have mud to slap in my face for not liking this movie?


Catherine: I do. I really like this movie. And I think the reason that I've seen it so many times is it touches this emotional chord. It's I think all stories, they're about something. But then like the really good stories are about something, like about some greater issue or some greater truth in life. And I think Shawshank kind of touches on that because you've got a plot, but then you could argue that it is also maybe about like being in prison literally and then maybe figuratively, and then it's also about hope—this greater idea of hope and how powerful that can be.


Mike: I agree that it is attempting to tell a story about hope. I do think it is aiming at that. I just don't think it's successful in doing it in an artistic way.


Catherine: What did you think about the ending of the movie, Mike?


Mike: There are two times in this movie I didn't hate the narration, and Red talking while we see Tim Robbins—it's almost Keyser Soze-ing like all this stuff has been hidden in the corners of the movie the whole time of his escape plan. I really enjoyed that. I'm a sucker for like Ocean's 11 and heist type stuff, and it had that vibe, like the adventure vibe of him like, "I'm breaking out, breaking out. I'm switching the Bible, and I'm stealing his shoes, and I'm digging through 500 yards of poop." All of that I found very entertaining, and was a rip-roaring good time.


Catherine: Okay, how about the ending shot in Mexico? Did you like that?


Mike: Yeah, it was sweet, you know, I mean, I like these two actors a lot. I wish Tim Robbins was still in more. I liked that he played it unemotional. This guy's like—his eyes are dead throughout the movie, and I think that was on purpose. And so, yeah, you're like, "Oh, good, they're going to be friends and take care of this boat." Which also $300,000 in the '40s? You could have bought a better boat, Tim Robbins.


Steve: Yeah, for sure. Little, little disappointed in that. While we're exploring that one observation that I did have, which was a little bit of a criticism, I do feel like they gave up a little bit of an opportunity to tie together the fact that because Andy Dufresne was innocent, should he have had more reason to hope? And could that hope have given him light in his eyes or the intellectual ability to think through this sort of complicated way that he was going to devise to get out of prison? I actually felt like they missed an opportunity to sort of tie those things together. That Andy Dufresne was different, presumably different in that he was innocent while everybody else was guilty, and could that have been the thing that made it possible for him to escape? And maybe that was there, but I just didn't catch it. But if it wasn't, I felt like that was a missed opportunity.


Mike: I think that's an interesting point because he's the one who was always like, "No, Red, you should hope." By the way, Tim Robbins, I think, is a weirdo, and that's why I like him as an actor, but so the stuff Andy is saying fits that. But the way Tim Robbins plays Andy, it looks like I not only think he killed his wife and her lover, when he tells Red, "go find that rock—there's things buried," it might be 30 other skulls. There are a few scenes in here that Tim Robbins like lurks over somebody and looks like the scariest person in the movie. But that's another mark against it. Good point, Steve.


Steve: Well, I don't want our listeners to get confused at what I think of the movie, which I think was a fantastic movie. I'm just trying to explore.


Mike: But you can also, yes, we can have nuanced opinions. One of my gripes with the internet is you either love it or hate it. I will say this—and maybe I should save this for the end—my esteem of it rose a little because, again, I liked Robbin's performance, and I liked that the big escape scene, which before I would've said I hate everything.


Steve: Well, I think one other thing that contributes to this movie becoming more and more favorable to those who watch it over time is that the movie, I think, did do a very good job conveying, let's say, the simplicity of that time—the '40s, the '50s. You know, there's, of course, a lot going on in the world in that time, but it was very simple. It wasn't really difficult to understand the characters and what was going on. And you had those interesting twists, especially with the warden, right? But it wasn't difficult to understand. Like it didn't make you have to work. I feel like there's movies where, like, my mind is really, really working to keep up: the new Dumbledore movie. I'm just going to tell you—I was exhausted at the end of that to figure out crap was going on. This movie was simple, and I think people enjoy simple. Right? It's it's where I can sit there and watch and be entertained, and I felt like that's something the movie did quite well.


Mike: I think that is a perfect tie in to our next segment. So we're going to take the quickest of breaks, and when we come back, more perfect segue.


Steve: Is that the best you could do, really? Did you run out of steam there, Mike?


Mike: I kind of did. My brain, I was like looking at the timer, I was I reading the thing, and then my brain was just like woof.


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Our final conversational piece I'm calling it "You Can Account on It." Mostly, because I was trying to shove "account" into every one of these headers, but a.k.a. "Why Is Everyone Getting What's Coming to Them?" Would the two of you describe this as a grounded film or more of a morality tale where everybody who's bad gets what come to them and everyone who's good gets what they deserve?


Catherine: It feels a little like a morality tale. Little fable-ish.


Mike: Do you think it could have leaned more into that? Do you think this is why Mike hates this movie?


Catherine: I have my suspicions. Oh, I thought it was a beautiful telling of the story. I don't know. Steve, what are your thoughts?


Steve: Well, I mean, if you think about the warden, for sure. If you think about Bogs, for sure. You know, the one that I wondered about was Captain Hadley. He's a little shady. I mean, clearly the way he's treating the prisoners when, you know, the warden is not there or looking. Well, and actually, now even as I say that clearly, by the end, you realize the warden doesn't care.


Mike: Murdering for the warden?


Steve: Yeah, exactly. I wonder how much he's really responsible for, but I think it's a tale of morality for sure. If nothing else, that Andy gets out. You know, the warden. I mean, I guess he doesn't quite get what's coming to him, but, you know, he ends up, you know, killing himself. And again, same thing with Bogs, right?


Mike: Who's Bogs?


Steve:So Bogs was the—


Catherine: One of the sisters, right?


Steve: Yeah, he was one of the sisters, one of the aggressive—probably the lead aggressor.


Mike: Of that gang who harangues Andy for trying to keep things PG on the show.


Steve: That's exactly right.


Catherine: Some of the characters had an untimely demise, and maybe they didn't deserve it. Like Tommy.


Mike: Mm hmm.


Catherine: That was kind of sad.


Mike: It was sad.


Steve: Yeah.


Mike: Well, the thing with, I think—and you can push back on me—in a morality play, it's not that literally everybody, it's just like the main characters you like. Tommy exists only to further Andy. Both in Andy we're showing that he still has the capacity for compassion, and then it feels like is what pushes him to finally escape and do his whole plan. Tommy isn't a real person.


Steve: Well, I agree with that, but I would actually add I think Tommy exists just as much for the warden.


Mike: Mm hmm.


Steve: Because that's the nail in the coffin, right? If you had any question about whether the warden was a good dude or a bad dude, once you get past that, you're like, you know what? I don't give a crap what happens to the warden. I hope he gets what's coming to him. In that regard. I actually feel like him committing suicide left you wanting a little bit because it was kind of the easy way out. You sort of want him to like, hey, this is going to be awesome, right? He's finally going to get it. And, you know, he doesn't. He just, you know, blows his head off basically.


Mike: I would love to meet a person who thought the warden was one of the heroes until that scene. Like what lack of comprehension of media literacy?


Steve: Well, but laundering money is one thing.


Mike: Not even because of that. I'm fine with that—do crime. My problem is how the warden treats everybody—guards or prisoners—how he treats other human beings and underlings while hiding behind the Bible. Like he he's gnashing his teeth and wailing about the Bible while being one of the least biblical type of people in the movie.


Steve: That's fair. I'll give you that.


Mike: And I like Clancy Brown generally, who plays Hadley. I think my problem is that the two big bad guys, or three with Bogs, there's no glimmer of humanity in them. They're just evil and Dufresne and Red: we hear Red talk about his past, that he was angry, but we don't see either of them having any negative. They're only heroes. Everything Dufersne does, he's just like I just want to help these guys all the time. He's never, like, actually angry. Even when he's angry at Tommy, it's kind of a ruse to push Tommy further into his studies, and I just want something meaty to grab on to with characters.


Steve: Yet, you wonder if in those two years where, you know, Andy was quiet and kind of getting beat up all the time, if that would have been a way or a time where you would create this deep-seated kind of anger, and maybe him having to work through that over the succeeding 20 years or whatever it was following that. I agree with you. That could have maybe introduced some more humanity or some darkness to the character that naturally you would have having endured what he endured.


Mike: Yeah, and like use Tommy to pull out that humanity or something instead of being like, here's another sign that Andy's great.


Catherine: I did get the sense, though, that Andy was a little bit human because there is that moment before you discover that he's escaped through the hole that maybe he did take that rope and commit suicide. There is that moment of uncertainty.


Mike: Did you think that, though? It felt so—it felt false drama to me. No part of me was like, oh, no, did he?


Catherine: Well, because the guards are like walking down the cells and checking, and they don't show his cell right away.


Mike: Yeah, I guess because, like the clawhammer, The Shawshank Redemption is just infiltrated all of society, so it's impossible to not know his escape. So I can't remember when I first thought of it, if I really thought he was going to kill himself. But yeah, I just felt the only I think saving grace of that scene is Morgan Freeman's face. The whole time was amazing. That was, like, the best acting he did. I loved it, and he wasn't talking. It was all acting. Show me.


Steve: Wow.


Mike: All right.


Steve: Very astute observation there, Mike.


Mike:  I like movies, man. I like thinking about them. Talking about them.


Steve: So, can I just make just a couple of offhand comments?


Mike: Offhand and off color.


Steve: Well, I'll see what I can do about the second. Didn't it feel like Andy Dufresne kind of had like a almost like a Batman quality to him at the end? How, you know, he had sent these letters and done all these things and he had been doing it the whole time and nobody knew about it, right?That's some Batman level stuff. Second thing is, did anybody think that Captain Hadley came across as like Biff Tannen from Back to the Future's younger, cleaner brother? I swear it's like Biff Tannen. Like, I'm expecting him to say butthead.


Mike: And just have a big pile of poo fall on him like every single Tannen.


Steve: Yes, exactly.


Mike: I think young Clancy Brown and young Tom Wilson, who plays Biff Tannen, definitely have similarities. They're really tall, bulking dudes.


Steve: Glad I'm not the only one.


Mike:  Their facial looks like granite into human form. We're going to take a quick break, and then it's time for awards. Did the two of you know that The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won zero?


Catherine: I did know that.


Steve: I did not know that.


Catherine: It's kind of surprising when you look and see who won the best picture. Because wasn't it? Well, I don't know.


Mike : Who won?


Catherine: I think it was Forrest Gump, but wasn't Pulp Fiction also that same year? So there's kind of like a bunch of juggernauts.


Mike: Yes, that's what actually should have won. Forrest Gump is fine.


Steve: You don't like Forrest Gump?


Mike: I like it better than I like this movie.


Steve: Well, I mean, I'm just saying, you know, you're looking for character arcs or whatever. I mean, Forrest Gump got that in droves.


Mike: Yeah, I think it's enjoyable.


Steve: Well, we don't have to go into it. But I hadn't connected the dots on the Academy Awards of that year, so that's that's interesting. But I wouldn't have given Shawshank, you know, the best picture over Forrest Gump for sure.


Mike: Regardless of our personal opinions of this movie or the season that it came out in, we are here to give it awards. Every movie we cover will earn an award. We're going to start with the best accounting moment to tie back into the reason for the season. So Catherine, what would you call the best accounting moment of the movie?


Catherine: I will tie it back to my off the wall comment from earlier and say it's the moment when they approve the funding for that overhead shot in the beginning.


Mike: Oh, I love that. That's very good. Steve?


Steve: I think it's got to be that very first thing with Captain Hadley about, hey, well, you know, do you trust your wife? The IRS, you know, has this rule, whatever. But that's only followed by—and this really isn't a moment in a movie—but it was a realization for me, as I said at the very end, where it's one of those shots where you see Andy Dufresne keeping the ledger and calculating stuff and whatever. And, of course, I was watching this movie because I was preparing for this episode. But hey, this guy's a controller, he's a tax director, he's a treasurer, he's a CFO. Well, you know, he's he's doing it all. I would say that sort of second place for at best accounting moment for me.


Mike: All right. I didn't know those terms controller and so on, but that was mine. I'm going to have to—this goes to Catherine. Catherine's award will represent all of Off the Books because it's so out-of-the-box way of thinking. So it's the helicopter shot scene. Next up is pound for pound performance, which means no matter how much screen time they had, who does the best with what they're given. Steve, I'll start with you this time.


Steve: I think it was Brooks.


Mike: Describe Brooks a little for the listeners, who he is.


Steve: Yeah, so older gentleman who had spent, what by the time he got out, 50 years, if I remember correctly. He was a librarian, so he was the prison librarian. He would load a little cart with books, and he'd wheel it by the cells and let the prisoners take books, and ostensibly, that's how Red would kind of make his deliveries, at least one of the ways that he would do it. So he and Red were clearly in cahoots. But, you know, here's a guy who'd spent really his entire adult life basically in prison, and he gets paroled probably because he's so old at that point that, you know, what danger does he really represent? And he does not do well in the real world and ends up committing suicide. And you really believed, you know, there was this scene when he was about to get out. He did not want to get out. He had been paroled. He was super nervous about it, and I think the reason why it resonated or why it really struck me is you could see it in his eyes. You could see it in the way that the actor portrayed it. Hey, he's really freaked out. Why? And then suddenly it clicks. This guy's never been, you know, I mean, he didn't even know what it's like to live as an adult in the real world. And I thought he killed it. I thought he nailed it.


Mike: We are in complete agreement. And that's I just looked it up. It's James Whitmore is the actor's name. And I think he he does so much with a little side role that I think could have been pretty forgettable. Catherine?


Catherine: I'll just say something different. I kind of thought Morgan Freeman did a lot with the narration. I think it's challenging to bring that much emotion into narration and then also make it interesting and carry through and have it feel natural.


Mike: I think. Brooks, James Whitmore's Brooks, is going to be a representative for our best performance. All right. Final word is best scene slash worst scene. You can do both if you have to choose one. If you want to talk about something good, if you want to talk about something negative. Where we at? Catherine, what do you got?


Catherine: One of the scenes that sticks out for me is when Andy gets into the record collection and takes over the sound system, and there is this opera music playing and everyone stops and listens.


Mike: Yeah, that is really powerful. I like that one. Steve?


Mike: I actually would agree with that. And in fact, I know this sounds dumb, and this is maybe an insight I have not shared, but I actually on any of our episodes, I actually really enjoyed the music. There was some music at the beginning. There was some music when he came to Shawshank, and then there was that scene that you talked about, and I loved that because Andy clearly knew what was going to happen to him, right? It wasn't a surprise. And yet he just sits there. Warden's knocking on the door. Andy's looking at him like, what are you going to do? You know, you're going have to break in the door, and I know you're going to beat the crap out of me, but I don't even care. I'm going to relish in this moment, and it was great music. So that's a win for me to.


Mike: Mine is I'm going to say, going back to Brooks, his story, he has left Shawshank and he writes a letter, and then we get to see him go through his day to day life before he kills himself. I think it's like a beautiful little short film, and they could have just made that and I would be happy, and, you know, I'm going to stay positive. I'm not going to do any of my worst scene contenders. I just do the best. That is all the time we have. That has been Shawshank Redemption. I know we haven't watched the other seven films yet. Do you think this is in contention for the best accounting movie we will watch?


Steve: Well, it's got to be up there. But again, if for no other reason, by just the amount and importance of the accounting in the film.


Mike: That is true. Any final thoughts, final words before we get out of here?


Steve: I'm still thinking about that worm that was in his food. Is that like a common thing, or was that just a way for us to get introduced to Brooks's bird, Jake. I don't know if that was his name. I don't remember.


Catherine: Let's hope that's not common.


Steve: That's a little weird. That hadn't really resolved in my head. Well, and nobody else was, like, thinking about bugs or worms in their food, right? Everybody's just kind of chowing down or whatever. Is that normal?


Mike: I assume they were just used to it, but they all had larva, and I was just like whatever prison, right?


Catherine: What would you do, Steve, if there was larva in your Diet Coke?


Mike: Never drink it again?


Steve: Well, I don't actually think a worm would survive the Diet Coke. So I'm actually going to say that that is a that's a positive for me because it assures that if I do have any worms in there, at least they've long since died.


Mike: All right. That that is it. Big thanks to you, dear listener, for surfing along with us. Big thanks to Catherine Tsai and Steve Soter. Next time in the near future, we'll be diving into Ghostbusters. This has been Off the Books presented by Workiva. Please subscribe. Leave a review. Tell your buddies if you like the show. Feel free to drop us a line at Off the Books at Surf's up, and we'll see you on the next wave.


Off the Books season 3


37 minutes


Steve Soter, Catherine Tsai, Mike Gravagno

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