The Untouchables Essay
Chicago in 1930 was a very dangerous period to be in. Local gangs stage war throughout the city for control of the billion dollar illegal alcohol industry. The main cause of thee violence in the city was Prohibition. Gang wars, gun battles and explosions were a common scene. Whenever local liquor stores won’t accept the high-priced low quality liquor being sold by gangsters that store will just be blown into dust. Gangs impose their will with the use of their toys, the tommy guns and hand grenades. In this city there is no greater kingpin than Alphonse Capone, portrayed by Robert De Niro. Al Capone controls the city as if he is the mayor.
He uses dummy corporations to hide his identity as the liquor king. He was always shown being interviewed by the press and often he distances himself from the liquor industry. He demonstrates himself as someone who has legitimate business and that he has nothing to do with liquor. Because he is so popular and powerful, the press accepts whatever he says. In addition, Capone even has control on the entire police force of Chicago. That is no wonder why nobody dares to take actions against Mr. Capone.
Then came agent Eliot Ness which was played by Kevin Costner. Agent Ness was sent by the Department of Treasury to take action and stop the growing empire of Al Capone. He was readily welcomed by the chief of police of Chicago. He immediately setup a raid on one of Capone’s warehouse. But since Capone has eyes and ears all over the town, the raid greatly failed. He only found umbrellas from what was supposed to be boxes full of illegal alcohol. Ness was devastated by this failed raid. This made him believe that there is nobody he can trust in the fight against Capone.
Then came the Irish American police officer Jim Malone which was played by Sean Connery. Sensing that officer Malone was different from all the other policemen in the city, Ness immediately asks for his help on how he can get Capone. At first Malone was hesitant. He cites that he is too old for this and he just wants to live the rest of his life and that he does not want to get involved. Eventually after some persuasion from Ness, Malone helped him. Sean Connery then uttered the most famous line of the movie, “Here’s how you get Capone: He gets a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital; you send one of his to the morgue.
That’s the Chicago way, and that’s how you get Capone”. From this moment there were now two “untouchables”. Being wise, Malone advised Ness to recruit from the police academy since they are not yet corrupted by Capone. They sure recruited the best, the marksman George Stone which was portrayed by Andy Garcia. The fourth untouchable was an accountant named Oscar Wallace. Charles Martin Smith played agent Wallace. Agent Wallace was the first to suggest that they can prosecute Capone for the crime of tax evasion. Finally there were now four untouchables but they sure will not be four once the battle against Capone’s empire ends.
The encounter at the American-Canadian border was a magnificent sight. The movie showed the beautiful mountains and the suspension bridge separating America from Canada. This is also the site of the first major gun battle between the Untouchables and the empire. Their target was the alcohol filled trucks being delivered from Canada. With the raid, they were able to lay hands on one of Capone’s bookkeepers, George. Another great setting of the movie was in the train station in Chicago. This time, the beautiful architecture of the station was the background of the most important gun battle in order for the Untouchables to prosecute Capone.
They managed to get their hands on Capone’s main bookkeeper named Payne. The court where Payne testified against Capone was the setting of the last gun battle. This time it is just between Agent Ness and Capone’s hitman named Frank Nitti. The scene where Ness pushed Nitti off the building was the only other special effect in the movie aside from the gun battles and explosions. Nitti was seen plunging down the rooftop of the courthouse with the sky in the background. At that time, movie special effects was not yet high tech, so it was very noticeable that the background sky was very unrealistic.
The main theme of the movie is the prohibition of the alcohol. Prohibition in the United States occurred specifically from 1920-1933. This refers to the attempt to ban sales and consumption of alcohol in the country. As commanded by the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the act of selling, manufacturing and transporting alcohol were banned throughout the country. Prohibition was mainly the only thing which was historically accurate. Gun battles where Ness fought were just made up to make the movie more entertaining. In reality, Ness and Capone only saw each other face to face in Capone’s trial where he was convicted for tax evasion.
What I really liked about this movie is not the gun battles but its soundtrack. The opening theme which was also used as the background theme during gun battles was outstanding. It is just one of the best tunes I have ever heard. It definitely ranks among the best soundtracks ever. Overall, the movie was descent. It certainly was entertaining. The actors that portrayed the main characters were excellent and were chosen very well. It may not pack the explosions and battles we are used to seeing in other action movies, but it is still very much worth watching and very much worth being added to a classic movie collection.
The Untouchables. Dir. Brian de Palma. Perf. Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Sean Connery and Andy Garcia. Paramount Pictures, 1987.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 March 2017