The Untouchables: Season 1, Episode 2

Ma Barker and Her Boys (22 Oct. 1959)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 73 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

Ness has tracked down the notorious bank robber Ma Barker, a woman who turned her back on religion in order to lead a life of crime with her sons.



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Episode complete credited cast:
George 'Pa' Barker
Joe Di Reda ...
Robert Ivers ...
Peter Baldwin ...
Abel Fernandez ...
Walter Winchell ...
Narrator (voice)


Eliot Ness and the Untouchables are in Florida to arrest Ma Barker and her sons who are staying at a holiday motel under assumed names. With the aid of the State Police, they stage a raid but the well-armed Barker gang hold them off for over 6 hours. Years before, Ma Barker's sons had developed quite a reputation as petty criminals but her real career in crime started when one of them, Herman, was shot by a policeman during a break-in. Soon the Midwest is in the midst of a crime spree that included kidnappings and robberies. The family starts to fall apart when one of her sons, Doc, decides to get married. He leaves home but used currency from a kidnapping and Ness is soon on his trail. Ma Barker gives their location away leading to Ness' raid. Written by garykmcd

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Action | Crime | Drama





Release Date:

22 October 1959 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


J. Edgar Hoover and Frank Sinatra both protested the release of the premiere of the series in 1959 for different reasons. Hoover objected when an episode depicted the fictional character Eliot Ness--based on real-life Treasury Agent Eliot Ness--taking down Ma Barker and her gang when it was actually the FBI which deserved full credit. Sinatra did not like the way Italian-Americans were portrayed as Mafia bosses and gangsters. See more »


The Untouchables surround the Barkers in a Florida motel, but they were actually caught in an old farmhouse they rented to lay low. See more »

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User Reviews

Historically Inaccurate But Makes For Good Drama
12 April 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I made a mistake of reading about Ma Barker before watching this second episode in the first season of The Untouchables. It kind of ruined things, because this story is almost entirely fabricated for dramatic purposes. In real life, Ma Barker never was directly involved in any of her boys' crimes and certainly wouldn't be firing a machine gun as she does in the dramatic shootout in Florida.

Also, this episode is disappointing because I want to see Robert Stack as "Elliott Ness" and his "Untouchables" in action in Chicago and this turns out be the Claire Trevor show as we see the life of her and her boys, mainly in Oklahoma. Trevor plays the kind of character atheist Hollywood loves to show: a church-going person who is nasty, violent and downright evil. Yes, in real life Barker came from a religious background, but this episode goes to such extremes in its distorted way to show a hypocritical woman that it's laughable. In truth, Ma was nothing more than an accomplice, unable to rat her boys out.

Trevor was always good playing nasty women in film noirs so she is effective in that role here, especially at the "advanced" age of 49. Speaking of that number, Trevor plays a character very similar to "Ma" in the 1949 movie "White Heat." Margaret Wycherly played that role and, frankly, I would choose her over Trevor.

Anyway, this was a departure from most of stories in this series, and a little too bias (and overacted by Trevor) to suit me, although it certainly wasn't boring.

Actually, there was one very neat thing in here. One of the Barker boys, "Doc," wound up with a girlfriend whom he married. She was a beautiful young woman, very sexy, and looked familiar. I just couldn't place where I knew her. The ending credits told me. It was Louise Fletcher, of "Nurse Ratched" fame in "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." Fletcher was about 24 when she filmed this episode.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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