Untouchables, The (1987)


Well when they're standing there like that with frikken firearms, what do you expect, tenderness?!
Well when they're standing there like that with frikken firearms, what do you expect, tenderness?!

Genre: Gangster Crime Drama Thriller

Starring: Kevin Costner (JFK Field Of Dreams), Sean Connery (Marnie • Diamonds Are Forever)

Directed By: Brian De Palma (Scarface Carrie)

Overview: "1930. Prohibition has transformed Chicago into a City at War. Rival gangs compete for control of the city's billion dollar empire of illegal alcohol, enforcing their will with the hand grenade and tommy gun. It is the time of the Ganglords. It is the time of Al Capone." - Opening Title

Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight. - Malone

Prohibition was a big deal for a lot longer than I expected.  In 1920 it hit America, and it lasted till 1933 before it was repealed due to... well... people like their booze enough to kill for it. Some people were just taking a nip here and there while others were stomping on the backs of lessers to get at the demand. This brings us to Al Capone and Elliot Ness.

You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the Chicago way! - Malone

Based on 1959 television series that ran for four seasons, starring Robert Stack (which was based on Elliot Ness' work journals), The Untouchables is a very liberal retelling of the Prohibition-enforcing team led by Elliot Ness.  In actuality there were not four men but eleven Treasury Department Federal agents trying to bring down Capone.     

This town stinks like a whorehouse at low tide. - Malone

The storytelling of The Untouchables has terrific pacing, witty writing, great action - be it fisticuffs or super-heroic shootouts - and great character development. From perfectly-cast weasel-faced villains to lovable little accountant protagonists to Malone, right in between. Sean Connery's Best Actor in a Supporting Role Oscar is certainly well deserved. His character, Malone, is a bastard, but a righteous bastard, and everyone's favorite.  Malone is the kind of character that could carry an otherwise bad movie, and in The Untouchables, he makes a great film even greater. 

I want you to get this fuck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES! - Capone

Watching The Untouchables again made me realize how awesome these 30s period films are, because they're so concerned about scenes rich in setting.  Excluding actual films from the 20s and 30s, my recent viewings of such period films have included Barton Fink, Miller's Crossing and King Kong. None of these films were based in factual events, and perhaps that's why the atmosphere of The Untouchables is so perfect.  That and DePalma likes the fancy overhead shots, using them frequently.  Overall a feast for the eyes.

Capone without his cap on.
Awkward moment #1 - opening scene: Capone right after his barber cuts him.

Overall Rating: 90% (...But Certainly Enjoyables)

The Untouchables is one of those films that just had to be made.  Prohibition and especially the fascination people have with Al Capone, well that's just Hollywood waiting to happen, and I'm glad The Untouchables happened sooner rather than later.

You know what's saddest of all? Alphonse Capone died due to syphilis complications.  Bleh. 

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