The Untouchables (1987)

BRIAN DE PALMA

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA, 1987Paramount Pictures.  Screenplay by , suggested by the book by , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  Academy Awards 1987Golden Globe Awards 1987.  

This adaptation of the Elliot Ness co-authored novel (the inspiration for a popular television series of the sixties) is a taut and exciting thriller in the best sense of the genre. Kevin Costner plays straight-arrow Ness, the federal agent who has made it his personal mission to bring down the gangland antics of Al Capone (a frightening Robert De Niro). As usual, De Palma borrows liberally from all the great masters of the past, the most notable ripoff being a climactic gun battle in a train station that is clearly inspired by the Odessa Steps sequence in Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. The screenplay by David Mamet is a gem, and the wonderful costumes and production design bring the story to life with accuracy and detail. Sean Connery gives a lot of intelligence to his scenes as one of Ness’s closest friends, and Patricia Clarkson makes her film debut as Ness’s wife.

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