Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia, Charles Martin Smith, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Bradford, Billy Drago and Robert De Niro

Brian De Palmer

Running Time:
119 mins

Out to buy on DVD 13/09/04

"...That's the Chicago way!"


1930 Chicago, a time of prohibition and organised crime, when the Windy City was ruled not by the police, the mayor or even the US Government but by one man, Al Capone (De Niro). The US Treasury Department send enthusiastic agent Eliot Ness (Costner) to take on Capone and bring the fight to the Mob. He gathers a small team of handpicked men he can trust in the sea of corruption that is Chicago. Men who cannot be bribed or lead astray, who would become known as The Untouchables.

The true story of Eliot Ness's pursuit of Al Capone has Hollywood movie written all over it and The Untouchables is a classic amongst the gangster genre.

Based loosely on the real events, the 50s TV series and the same titled book by Eliot Ness himself, director Brian De Palmer and writer David Mamet's version of the tale takes a few liberties with history but produces a classic movie. A fantastic look (as you'd expect from a De Palmer movie), an outstanding cast and a script filled with exciting set pieces and riveting dialogue, The Untouchables is a gangster movie that shows the other side conflict, the side of law enforcement.

As movies like Scarface, Once Upon a Time in America, Goodfellas and The Godfather Trilogy showed the gritty side of life with the Mob, there are few movies that portray the victories scored by the law enforcement agencies. This film shows you one of the most high profile arrests in organised crime history, even though they never actually got Capone on any other crime but tax evasion. The movie celebrates the incorruptible, dedication of a small group of brave men who took the fight to Capone for nothing more than justice, which is a real rarity in the genre.

David Mamet's brilliant script is littered with his trademark quotable dialogue. Every character is beautifully written and enough though you only get the minimum amount of background information about them, you instantly know what they are all about and what their motivations are. It is the interactions between characters and the grandiose speeches of Al Capone that really standout. The mentor and pupil connection between Malone and Ness is brilliantly conceived and the differences between Capone's communication with the press and his employees is almost frightening. He is daring of the press and a tyrant that commands respect when he gives out orders to his men.

Mamet's script is brought to live by some outstanding performances from the five key players. This is the movie that made Kevin Costner a superstar. As Eliot Ness, he creates a character that is naively driven at first but soon turns into a force under the tutelage of Malone's hardened beat cop. This was a breakout role for Costner that would lead him on a run of great films that included Dances With Wolves, JFK, Field of Dreams and Bull Durham, up until The Bodyguard in 1992.

Sean Connery's Oscar winning performance as Malone is one of the best of his career. While he maybe the most Scottish Irishman you have ever heard, this was the role that finally allowed him to step out of James Bond's shadow to be taken as a serious actor. It is the conversations and interactions between him and Costner that drive the film. Andy Garcia is another actor who career was launched in this movie.

As George Stone we have the cool but hard character, who is deadly with a pistol. Charles Martin Smith provides a slight inkling of comic relief as accountant turned Untouchable Oscar Wallace. This is a great role for the actor because this time he is the nerd with a shotgun.

Robert De Niro might not actually be in the film for an extended period of time but he commands your attention every time he graces the screen. Again the master actor proves that he is without equal when it comes to getting inside a character to create a role that just jumps out of the screen. His Al Capone is one of the best supporting roles you will ever see, as he makes the Ness's determination to stop all the more creditable with his powerhouse performance.

Once in a while a film comes along that reinvigorates and re-invents a genre that Hollywood has forgotten about, this is one of those movies. With outstanding performances, a riveting script and a visual flare that truly captures the look and the feeling of menace that so epitomises the time, The Untouchables is a classic.


Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, the transfer is ok. The picture quality is grainy at times and the colours don't seem as sharp in places as you'd expect them to be. The sound is better however as Ennio Morricone's wonderful score fills the speakers and Mamet's brilliant dialogue is crystal clear.


The Script, The Cast (18.32 mins)
Director Brian De Palmer and producer Art Linson talk about bringing the story of The Untouchables to the sliver screen. With behind the scenes footage and interviews with cast members Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith during the 1987 shoot, the director and producer reflect on David Mamet's brilliant script, casting and distancing the picture from the TV series. This includes a very interesting story about the casting of Capone.

Production Stories (17.18 mins)
Director Brian De Palmer, director of photography Stephen H. Burum, visual consultant Patrizia Von Brandenstien and star Charles Martin Smith talk about creating the look of The Untouchables. They discuss how they intended to be evocative of period, making Chicago feel less crowded for example, and the challenge of shooting in locations that existed at the time but having to not include any modern structures. (They couldn't just digitally remove buildings in 1987). Costume design, set dressing and finding enough cars from era are also discussed.

Re-inventing the Genre (14.24 mins)
Director Brian De Palmer, director of photography Stephen H. Burum, producer Art Linson and star Charles Martin Smith talk about creating a larger than life movie in the John Ford style of filmmaking. Director of photography Stephen H. Burum reveals how De Palmer always has a 'Creeper' sequence, using the camera as a character, and a 'Holdout' sequence (the train station scene). They also talk about the film's strong emphasis on character and the original ending.

The Classic (5.39 mins)
Director Brian De Palmer, director of photography Stephen H. Burum, producer Art Linson and star Charles Martin Smith talk about how well the movie previewed and opened in the US. They also discuss the importance of Ennio Morricone's score and how it set the tone for the entire movie. Original Featurette - The Men (5.26 mins) Filmed in 1987 to promote the movie, stars Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith talk about their characters and two key scenes in the film, the horse sequence and the train station scene.

Theatrical Trailer (2.37 mins)
Your chance to watch the original 1987 trailer for The Untouchables.


The special edition version of The Untouchables is far better than the stand-alone version that was released a few years ago. With over an hours worth of featurettes, the value of the DVD release has increased dramatically, which fans of the movie will applaud. Paramount could have including a commentary track however but this aside this is still a good presentation of the movie.


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