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The Untouchables (1987)

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During the era of Prohibition in the United States, Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop ruthless Chicago gangster Al Capone, and because of rampant corruption, assembles a small, hand-picked team to help him.

Director:

Brian De Palma

Writers:

Oscar Fraley (suggested by book), Eliot Ness (suggested by book) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,174 ( 116)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Costner ... Eliot Ness
Sean Connery ... Jim Malone
Charles Martin Smith ... Oscar Wallace
Andy Garcia ... George Stone
Robert De Niro ... Al Capone
Richard Bradford ... Mike
Jack Kehoe ... Payne
Brad Sullivan ... George
Billy Drago ... Nitti
Patricia Clarkson ... Ness' Wife
Vito D'Ambrosio ... Bowtie Driver
Steven Goldstein ... Scoop
Peter Aylward Peter Aylward ... Lt. Anderson
Don Harvey ... Preseuski
Robert Swan ... Mountie Captain
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Storyline

After building an empire with bootleg alcohol, legendary crime boss Al Capone rules Chicago with an iron fist. Though Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness attempts to take Capone down, even his best efforts fail due to widespread corruption within the Windy City's police force. Recruiting an elite group of lawmen who won't be swayed by bribes or fear, including Irish-American cop Jimmy Malone, Ness renews his determination to bring Capone to justice. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What are you prepared to do? See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 June 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Untouchables See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,023,094, 7 June 1987, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$76,270,454

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$106,240,936
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| DTS-ES (Blu-ray)| Dolby Digital EX (DVD)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Brian De Palma took the idea of the train station scene from the Russian movie Battleship Potemkin (1925). The sailors who get caught in the crossfire in this movie are a tribute to Potemkin. So is the baby carriage rolling down the steps, which was parodied in other movies, including Woody Allen's Bananas (1971) and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985), which also featured Robert De Niro. See more »

Goofs

In the courtroom scene with Frank Nitti, he is using a Star 1911 semi-automatic handgun that could hold anywhere from 6 to 9 rounds in its clip (and indeed, Nitti initially fires off seven rounds before the gun's slide locks back during the rooftop-chase), yet after he reloads a fresh clip into the gun, he is only able to fire four additional shots at Ness before his gun again runs dry and he ditches the gun. No experienced hit man would ever carry partly-loaded ammo-magazines. See more »

Quotes

[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.
[...]
See more »

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 »

Alternate Versions

In Belgium the first release in the theaters omitted the scene where Al Capone hits one of his henchmen with a base-ball bat. Two weeks after its release the scene was restored. Cinemas announced this to be the 'uncensored version'. See more »

Connections

Referenced in iZombie: Love & Basketball (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The sum of its good individual components, no more
25 December 2006 | by Flagrant-BaronessaSee all my reviews

Director Brian De Palma is the son of a surgeon, and perhaps this explains his high tolerance for the bloodshed that has translated into brutal, raw scenes in 'The Untouchables'. Then again, this film is set during one of the bloodiest chapters of American history and demands unflinching depiction accordingly. Zooming in on prohibition-era Chicago, a dirty, dingy, crime-infested retreat of mafia, the film lets us know a special unit headed by Kevin Costner whose objective is to frame the super villain himself – Al Capone (Robert De Niro).

There are, in effect, three or four things that truly stand out about The Untouchables–an otherwise standard crime by-the-numbers romp–and at least one of them should be attributed to the surface of the spectacle; the costumework and settings are superbly breathed life into, as is De Palma's accolade, with a screen that is awash with lyrical colours and accompanied by a swelly, jazzy moonlit music score. Another worthy accolade is of course Sean Connery as detective Malone – an American-Irish cop on the beat and down with the ways of the street – who may deliver one of the worst accents in film history, but makes up for what he lacks in verbal power with heaps of charisma. Malone is given, by far, the best dialogue in David Mamet's script as when he instructs Kevin Costner on how to get to Capone: "He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue."

Another worthy staple to The Untouchables is its strong individual scenes. In the front row for these sits the notorious baseball bat scene in which a furious Al Capone beats one of his associates' head into a bloody pulp with a bat, right in front of all the guests at the grand dinner table. Robert De Niro gained weight for his role as the crime-lord Al Capone and approaches his character with commitment, but sadly he is ineffective in the film as De Palma does not quite know what to do with him. Instead he craggily intercuts Capone's boisterous speeches and monologues with the template storyline of Kevin Costner's special unit, and the former are incongruous to the key story of 'The Untouchables'. Here it regrettably becomes apparent that the film possesses all the necessary ingredients but no blender in which to stir it – and De Palma is largely to blame for lacking the necessary skill.

Having said that, The Untouchables keeps up the appearance of an epic crime film so rigorously through seamless costumes, stinky Chicago accents, vivid chases and a swarming taste to its sets that for a long time we are led to believe that De Palma has truly done it with this film. Certainly there are many scenes that testify to this and aptly camoflauge the shortcomings, such as the suspenseful pre-battle sequence at the Canadian border in which the Western-loving Costner is up on horseback to ambush the incoming shipment. Another is the first meeting between Andy Garcia and Sean Connery, in which the latter decides to recruit Garcia's Italian character in spite of racial feuding (Connery's supposed to be Irish), and instead because he likes his mouthy, bold attitude. Finally there is the unspeakably epic climax scene that plays on operatic in length through a long, glorious slow-motion capture by a staircase, politely nodding to The Battleship Potemkin's 'Odessa Steps Sequence'.

The whole film is in fact an operatic affair with technicalities deluxe. With its mindboggling ensemble (Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia and Patricia Clarkson) it is easy to see how it is cuing us in to like it. To some extent it succeeds well, for it is suspenseful, but it is not well sewn-together. What good is a De Niro if you are not going to use him opposite the rest? What good is a Kevin Costner (who has never looked so ridiculously handsome in his career for that matter) if you are not going to let him emote? And lastly, what good is a large handful of fully-fledged wonderful scenes if you are not going to juxtapose them with something, instead of dishing them out every now and then to keep our interest?

7 out of 10


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