THE UNTOUCHABLES: SEASON 1, VOLUME 1
Image B+ Sound B Extras D+
"The Empty Chair," "Ma Barker and Her Boys," "The George 'Bugs' Moran Story," "The Jake Lingle Killings," "Ain't We Got Fun," "Vincent 'Mad Dog' Coll," "Mexican Stake-Out," "The Artichoke King," "The Tri-State Gang," "The Dutch Schultz Story," "You Can't Pick the Number," "The Underground Railway," "Syndicate Sanctuary," "The Noise of Death"
THE SCARFACE MOB
***/**** Image A- Sound B Extras D+
starring Robert Stack, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Nichols, Pat Crowley
written by Paul Monash, based on the novel The Untouchables by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley
directed by Phil Karlson
by Ian Pugh I love Brian De Palma's The Untouchables precisely for the self-consciously fictionalized varnish that curiously seems to have earned it disdain among the director's devotees. Apart from its romantic, "pure cinema" thrills, however, its Hollywood gloss is the perfect complement to De Palma's penchant for effortlessly transforming assaults on the body into assaults on the mind: an undercurrent of violence constantly threatens to erupt and destroy the gentle exterior of a make-believe 1930s Utopia dictated by fedoras and pinstripe suits. No such undercurrent exists in the original 1959-63 Robert Stack television series on which the 1987 film is ostensibly based--it, too, is pure romanticism, but of a sleazier, more straightforward breed. Corruption and greed are obvious and rampant in "The Untouchables"' world, and the violence that greets dissent is treated as an accepted fact of everyday life. Each episode of the series begins with a brief preview of the scene featuring the most gunfire (usually taking out some poor schmuck who crossed his superiors), which quickly establishes the down-and-dirty rules in play. The greatest aspect of "The Untouchables" lies in how these scenes incite both a visceral thrill and the soon-fulfilled desire to see justice served.