The Untouchables - A Raving Classic

We told you several weeks ago that a classic movie is one that you can watch again and again without ever getting bored or having to look at your watch (something that we ended up doing several times during the premier of Skyfall this week - what a shame). Today we're going to review a Raving Classic that never gets old - The Untouchables. This movie had a lot going for it and still does including:
  • Kevin Costner before he got soggy from Waterworld
  • One of Robert De Niro's best performances ever
  • One of Sean Connery's best performances ever (we were wishing they'd bring him back to the Bond franchise as well - perhaps as Q?)
  • One of the best musical scores in a film ever from Ennio Morricone (we've included clips) - and yes, this was the same guy who did the theme for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
  • A very realistic look ad feel that takes us back to prohibition times in ole Chi-town
  • A ton of vintage cars - we liked that - we were wondering if that many vintage cars from the Depression era even exist anymore - although we're sure some FX wizard could render them now if needbe.

Welcome to the War on Booze !

The 1987 film starts strong with an awesome combo of credits and score that are absolutely timeless. This film perhaps even more than Field of Dreams is what made Costner the superstar he was - he was then able to go on and make Robin Hood, Dances with Wolves and JFK in rapid succession. It's cool to watch him in these early films before he went the through trauma of films like the Postman and all of the money that lost for him. The entire cast does a great job as well, with Andy Garcia making his blockbuster debut as the young Italian cop who wants to shed the gangster image and goes toe to toe with Connery's wise old beat cop persona, Jimmy Malone.

The story of the Untouchables was perhaps more familiar in 1987 to America than it is now given that the Untouchables was also a TV series in the late 1950's starring Robert Stack as Eliot Ness. And before that of course, keep in mind that this was based on a true story - this is more or less how the Feds actually caught Al Capone. Al was without a doubt, the biggest, most infamous mobster in US history. Capone was the archetype for the drug-lords of today and he ruled what would now be a multi-billion dollar crime syndicate that more or less ran Chicago for a number of years.  We may never know how many men he had killed during his reign but it is likely that he was responsible for the grisly Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929. Robert De Niro's portrayal of Capone is simply a joy to watch and will stand as one of the great movie villain roles of all time.

The real Al Capone, before he got caught - he died in prison

There are at least two of Cinema's all time best scenes ever in The Untouchables. Can you guess what they are? Here's a hint, one has to do with Baseball and the other involves a train station:
  1. De Niro's speech to his capos (lieutenants) about his hobbies - or "enthusiams" focuses on how baseball is a team sport. There is something about how the good-natured sports speech turning brutal that chills you to the bone. We hope we never have a coach like Al.
  2. The train-station shoot-out. This was a very ambitious scene and explores every angle of a crazy situation in painstaking detail as we move with the action in slow motion. It doesn't seem as though something like this would work - but it does. The clip below is a parody of that scene from the "Naked Gun" series.

A masterful parody and a glimpse of OJ before he became a real-life Bad guy

The Untouchables is an often corny, sometimes quite violent, usually suspenseful and overall pretty darn fun movie to watch. Don't expect a deep, realistic character study of Eliot Ness and Capone - this is a morality play, an old-time Western that just happens to be located in Chicago. The moral of this story? Crime doesn't pay even when it may not really be a crime (e.g. Prohibition). Ness and Capone both realize that its not the liquor that's the issue - it's the criminal atmosphere that is created in response to the demand for that prohibited product that creates both the opportunity and the problem. If Ness (who said he'd get a drink after hearing Prohibition was ended) was around nowadays would he care to smoke a joint in the states that just legalized pot? Interesting question.

 Our next Raving Classic - 1986's Predator

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