The Untouchables was released during 1987 and it was directed by Brian De Palma, he of Scarface and Carlito’s Way fame. Starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Robert De Niro, the story revolves around Eliot Ness (Costner), who is tasked with combating the rampant bootlegging in Chicago during the Prohibition. After a very embarassing incident which makes the papers, he decides to get some proper help. He enlists an initially reluctant beat-cop, played by Sean Connery, who knows a thing or two about getting rapid results. He also acquires a young cop called Stone (Garcia) and an accountant (Charles Martin Smith). As he and his gang of ‘Untouchables’ have more success, they begin to draw the ire of the not exactly calm, Al Capone (De Niro).
For the most part the acting on display is highly commendable, bar a few exceptions. The main honours go to Sean Connery and Bob De Niro. Connery won a supporting Oscar for his role as the tough talking ‘Irish’ cop. I use the word ‘Irish’ in its loosest sense as his accent is still Scottish! Nevertheless, he enters a career best performance, which lights ups the screen with several memorable moments. One cannot go wrong with his impassioned speech in the church. De Niro, who has limited screen time, sticks vividly in your mind, generally thanks to the famous baseball bat scene. Andy Garcia acquits himself well in his breakthrough role and Charles Martin Smith endears himself as the out of touch accountant. Kevin Costner, who can really act when he wants to (see Mr. Brooks), is very limp in the lead role and is utterly forgettable.
The Untouchables has many famous moments, including the pram rolling down the steps at the train station and the aforementioned baseball bat scene, which was hilariously lampooned on The Simpsons, with Mr. Burns in Capone’s role. The movie is quite violent, as one would expect from De Palma, but does not reach the levels of Scarface, mercifully. De Palma has never been known for his finesse and personally I enjoy his brash, in your face style.
The film’s luxurious score was provided by Mr. Reliable – Ennio Morricone. Once again he marries the music perfectly to the action onscreen. Without his music the movie would have had far less impact. As I have said before, I believe that the eighties produced the best period sets and I stand by that here. One could almost believe that the actors are standing in the streets of Prohibition-era Chicago.
The Untouchables is a thoroughly enjoyable film, which should keep you entertained throughout its 119 minute run time. Watch this for Connery and De Niro’s acting if nothing else. Please don’t let this picture go untouched.