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The Untouchables [1987 film] by Brian De…

The Untouchables [1987 film] (1987)

by Brian De Palma (Director), David Mamet (Screenwriter)

Other authors: Patricia Clarkson (Actor), Sean Connery (Actor), Kevin Costner (Actor), Robert De Niro (Actor), Andy Garcia (Actor)2 more, Ennio Morricone (Composer), Charles Martin Smith (Actor)

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1823101,939 (4.05)4
The story of the glorious, fierce, larger-than-life depiction of mob warlord Al Capone who ruled Prohibition-era Chicago ... and Eliot Ness, the law enforcer, who vowed to bring him down. A classic confrontation between good and evil, and how with the help of a cop named Malone, Ness learns how to beat the mob by shooting fast and shooting first.… (more)



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The Untouchables (1987)

Sean Connery – Jim Malone
Robert De Niro – Al Capone
Kevin Costner – Eliot Ness

Charles Martin Smith – Oscar Wallace
Andy Garcia – George Stone
Billy Drago – Nitty
Richard Bradford – Mike
Jack Kehoe – Payne
Brad Sullivan – George
Patricia Clarkson – Ness’ Wife

Screenplay by David Mamet
Directed by Brian De Palma

Paramount Pictures, 2005. Colour. 115 min. DD 5.1. 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.


You wanna know how to get Capone? Here’s how you get ’im: he pulls 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! And that’s how you get Capone. Now, do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?

Speaking of Prohibition epics, this one remains my favourite. It doesn’t waste time with historical accuracy or sordid realism. It goes for poetic power and actually achieves it. Some scenes in this movie are among the most haunting I have ever seen. The script has its weak moments, but they are redeemed by De Palma’s voyeuristic direction (far better than in Scarface), Morricone’s creepy soundtrack, an evocative production design and a simply magnificent cast.

Sean Connery, besides being more handsome at 57 than he was at 32, is the undisputed star of this movie. Malone is a smart Irish cop who knows how to get Capone but doesn’t have the balls to do it – until he meets Eliot Ness who takes him out of his placid “walking the beat”. Malone is cheated out of his retirement in one of those scenes painful to watch but impossible to forget. The text and context of “Vesti la giubba” have nothing to do with his predicament, but they do provide Capone with the opportunity for a mock crying scene. What a harsh irony! I have always wondered whether it was another deliberate touch of it to couple the glorious voice of the handsome Mario Del Monaco with the grossly obese Canio in the movie.

Malone is quite a humorist, and most welcome is his Irish sense of humour in a movie that is almost too brutal and bloody for comfort. He has no illusions about Chicago: “This town stinks like a whorehouse at low tide.” He has formulated the first and most important rule of police work: “Make sure when your shift is over you go home alive.” He is a comic actor, too. The scene with the recruitment of George Stone (the first of Andy Garcia’s two good roles, the other one being in The Godfather Part III three years later) is a wonderful piece of comedy. So, in a grim sort of way, is Malone’s shooting practice with corpses on the Canadian border. You have to feel for that Mountie Captain:

“Mr Ness! I do not approve of your methods.”
“Yeah? Well, you’re not from Chicago.”

[The city is pronounced “Shikago”. Sounds cooler.]

Robert De Niro is a luxury to have in the small part of the most mythical gangster of all time. Overweight, grinning, chatty, vulgar, volatile, mendacious and homicidal, this Capone makes an impression way out of proportion to his meagre screen time. And he’s a huge baseball fan to boot. That scene with the baseball bat is rightly iconic. No matter how well prepared you are, it is a shocking thing to see. De Palma’s final shot zooming out from above was a stroke of genius.

Last but not least, the late Billy Drago is the nastiest guy in a white suit since Gregory Peck in The Boys from Brazil (1978). Batman’s costume would have been more useful to him in the end. It’s only a poetic justice that he ended up “in the car”. Sometimes the law does need a little bending. Last and least, Kevin Costner is really fine in the leading role. He is nevertheless completely overshadowed. But he does have the last word:

“They say they’re going to repeal Prohibition. What will you do then?
“I think I’ll have a drink.”
( )
1 vote Waldstein | Nov 1, 2019 |
The only honest cops in Chicago go after Al Capone.

You could make a great movie out of it, with a little editing and a new score.

Concept: B
Story: C
Characters: C
Dialog: B
Pacing: D
Cinematography: A
Special effects/design: B
Acting: B
Music: D

Enjoyment: C plus

GPA: 2.4/4 ( )
  comfypants | Nov 4, 2015 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
De Palma, BrianDirectorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mamet, DavidScreenwritermain authorall editionsconfirmed
Clarkson, PatriciaActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Connery, SeanActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Costner, KevinActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
De Niro, RobertActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garcia, AndyActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morricone, EnnioComposersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, Charles MartinActorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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