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The Untouchables (1987)

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Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team.



(suggested by book), (suggested by book) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Police Chief Mike Dorsett
Jack Kehoe ...
Walter Payne
Brad Sullivan ...
Bowtie Driver
Lt. Anderson
Officer Preseuski
Robert Swan ...
Mountie Captain


Federal agent Elliot Ness assembles a personal team of mob fighters to bring Chicago crime boss Al Capone to justice using unconventional means during the mob wars of the 1920s. This fictionalized account of the arrest of Al Capone is heavy on style and gunfire. The end shootout combines a baby carriage and stairs with a nod to Eisenstein's _The Battleship Potemkin_. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Never stop fighting till the fight is done See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 June 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los intocables  »

Box Office


$25,000,000 (estimated)


$76,270,454 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The only scenes that have both Kevin Costner and Robert De Niro together are the scenes in the hotel lobby and the courtroom. See more »


When the bad guy waits outside Malone's house before Malone gets killed, he checks the address written in his match tab. All the matches at the right end had been used up. Later in the court house Elliot uses the same tab of matches and finds Malone's address on it. This tab has almost all the matches on the right end. The handwriting on both the tabs are also distinctly different. See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: 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.
Reporter: [to Al Capone] An article, which I believe appeared in a newspaper, asked why, since you are, or it would seem that you are, in effect, the mayor of Chicago, you've not simply been appointed to that position.
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Crazy Credits

The title of the aria "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's opera "Pagliacci" is misspelled in the closing credits of the film: "Vesti la guibba". See more »


Vesti la giubba
aria from opera "Pagliacci"
Written by Ruggero Leoncavallo
Performed by Mario Del Monaco
Conducted by Francesco Molinari Pradelli
Orchestra dell'Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma
Courtesy of London Records, A division of PolyGram Classics, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

I'm so sorry to say
31 March 2008 | by (Hudson, Ohio) – See all my reviews

I'll preface this by saying that I'm not typically in the habit of "calling" anything out, especially a film, but it has just come down to that.

So I purchase a lot of movies before i've seen them, typically based on praise I'd formally heard or read, or a film whose concepts just gripped me from a trailer or a brief synopsis. I've purchased plenty in this style, "Requiem for a Dream", "Blue Velvet", "Goodfellas" and "Scarface" to name a few. "The Untouchables" was the latest film I took a five dollar bargain with.

Phenomenal credentials, a Brian DePalma film (director of such great films as "Carlito's Way" and the aforementioned "Scarface") written by David Mamet (who has penned "The Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Wag the Dog") and starring Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia, Sean Connery and Robert De Niro as Al Capone, the infamous mobster. Here we set up a story in prohibition era 1930's and Capone rules the streets with violence and an unforgiving hand. The Treasury Department sends Eliot Ness to Chicago to deal with the terrible problems facing the windy city. He is young, he is naive, he is idealistic and he will soon learn he needs to be as uncompromising as the streets he is trying to protect. Enter Malone, an aged cop who has been weathered down by all of the agonizing distress and pain caused by trying to fight crime in such a corrupt place. Malone takes Ness under his wing and together they recruit two more men to their group, a group which will attempt to bring down one of the most significant figures in the history of organized crime.

So I went in to the film imagining a dark and gritty noir type of film, with great characters, powerful performances and epic scenes of a great city struggling to reclaim itself in the wake of depression. None of that was present. Instead what I had stumbled upon was an obviously set-shot film for it's majority, something which I find sincerely weakens the tenacity of the opening scene in the bar with the little girl and in other places throughout.

Something which let me down was Kevin Costner's single-dimensional portrayal of the man who vows to bring down Al Capone. But really, what did I expect from him? He did "Waterworld". His naive character who goes through a whirl of transformation from a good, wholesome officer of the law to a "no holds barred", "Do what must be done" cop couldn't have been any more poorly executed. A character who holds so much truth and sees and experiences so many things that change his psyche was just not present. It wasn't there. It just happened. It was all over and he was still the same. No one should be the same after dealing with what he has. Charles Martin Smith and Andy Garcia's roles are minor in the film and they way in which their characters were developed (or underdeveloped for that matter) is yet just another fault.

Al Capone. It couldn't have been hard trying to figure out who should portray this man. Robert De Niro has been a godsend to any filmmaker wanting to depict organized crime. Who better to play a young Vito Corleone? Where would Scorsese be if not for De Niro in "Mean Streets" and "Taxi Driver"? And he does it again with magnificence. He IS Al Capone. He's nice but he's unforgiving. He's innocent until proved guilty. He executes his role so powerfully that you wish the film was told from his perspective instead of the good guys. He makes the movie real and what lets me down with his role is the mere fact that he is only in it a few times, and when he leaves you want more.

The great Sean Connery received an Oscar for his role in this film and I can't disagree with that decision any stronger. I'm not saying Connery is a bad actor, on the contrary, i think he is a spectacular actor, he can make you laugh, or make you want to be a spy or really just kick some ass. But he doesn't make you want to hang out in Chicago. He's just there. Now I don't blame Connery for his characters seemingly strong lack of involvement, I blame poor direction and shoddy writing. His character was one of great strength, the only "good" cop left in a sea of corruption, but his time has passed, he doesn't want that dangerous life anymore, but he gets back into it because it's the right thing to do. Think of all of the emotional turmoil, the INNER turmoil that could have made his character more powerful and subsequently enhanced Costner's character as the man following his example. Just a shame.

The music was another thing that let me down. That and some of the boring, "made for TV" style shots create a lack of depth in the heart of the picture. I never feel like I'm in Chicago, I never feel that I'm watching one of the most important things to happen in 20th Century US history, I feel like I'm watching a PG movie with more blood than normal so they upped it to R. I'm going to stop now while there is just so much I could say.

But don't let me bring you down. It's premise is great, it just wasn't what I was expecting. As I watched the movie I saw a better one with each shot, with each clichéd line being changed, just so slightly, darker, more emotional, more in the vain of what DePalma did for "Scarface". It can be better, and hopefully someday it will be.

22 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why is this story based in Prohibition era? kevinchengxin
the music was absolutely dreadful nikilauda123
Worst movie I've ever seen nickjamesgood
Who's responsible for ruining the movie by casting Kevin Costner? ForKingAndCountry
Muddy Sense Of Morality PhoenixVanguard
Sean Connery hated Kevin Costner asburyparkwest
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