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Chicago, 1930, time of the prohibition. And it is the great time for the organized crime, the so called Mafia. One of the big bosses is Al Capone. He is the best know but at least, he was only one in a dirty game of sex, crime and corruption. People are willing to pay any price to drink alcohol, and sometimes it is their life they have to pay with. Special agent Eliot Ness and his team are trying to defeat the alcohol Mafia, but in this job, you don't have any friends. Written by
Florian Baumann <email@example.com>
"THE UNTOUCHABLES" : An Overview of Elliot Ness Gangland Saga, as told by Lucy & Ricky Ricardo
Having been born and bred in Chicago, it was at a rather tender age of about 12 or 13 that I first became aware of all of the Gangland Lore that there was in our Fair City.* It was at this time of having Television Dramas such as THE UNTOUCHABLES as the main means of illuminating the period of our recent past known as the Prohibition Era.
It surely must have been the popular topic in Hollywood in this time around 1959 to do stories about Prohibition, the Organized Crime Syndicate and the Desparado Bank Robbers of the 1930's Depression Years.In the Movie Houses we had the likes of AL CAPONE (1959) and THE PURPLE GANG (also 1959) and others.
But on TV, we had only one other series besides THE UNTOUCHABLES to dramatize the businesslike organized crime of that timer between the two World Wars. And that would be NBC's THE LAWLESS YEARS (1959-'61). It featured episodic tales of many different Gangland Thugs, highly fictionalized like the Eliot Ness show was. In it, James Gregory portrayed one New York City Police Department Inspector Barney Ruditsky, who like Elliot Ness, was a real life person, but enough of the competition for right now.
The stories on the Untouchables varied from having been fairly closely written following the facts of the actual occurrences, to just about totally fictional. The best examples would be the Two-Part Untouchables on the CBS weekly anthology, DESILU Playhouse and the two parter on the Untouchables Series, "The Unhired Assassin".
The former details the formation of Ness' Unit of Treasury Agents,** the latter dramatized the events leading to the killing of Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak(Robert Middleton) in Florida by one crazed little Italian immigrant, Giusseppe Zangara(Joe Mantell). At the time, Mayor Cermak was on stage next to newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was Zangara's target.
All of the episodes, whether more realistic or the far-fetched, strictly pulp fictional "Cops 'n' Robbers stuff, benefited from the use of Former Big Shot Newspaper Columnist, Walter Winchell's fine narration.
When taken with a grain of salt,like all Hollywood Dramatizations should be, the series serves to recreate a little bit of history in Twentieth Century America. Maybe this TV Drama serves us well, particularly if it whets the curiosity, encouraging the viewer to read up on the times of "Bath Tub Gin and The Thompson Sub-Machine Gun!"
* It's funny how often we still hear from some out-of-towner all about how bad our town is and how the Hoods run this place. Our Mother, the now 90 year old Bertha Ryan (nee Fuerst) has cousins in rural Michigan who wouldn't believe that she had never witnessed a Murder! Our late Dad, Clem Ryan, a Navy Veteran in World War II told the tale of English Kids around their Base in Southhampton, Englasd did the old "EH-eh-eh-eh!" sound to accompany their mime impersonation of a Machine Gun, upon hearing that he hailed from Chicago!
** "Treasury Agents", or as Snuffy Smith calls 'em, "Revenooers!"
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