I was 13 when I first saw The Untouchables at a drive-in movie. From the moment that the title theme came over the speaker, I knew this movie was going to be great. At the time, you still had a young Robert De Niro, a prime Sean Connery and a young Kevin Costner. Let’s not forget about an unknown Andy Garcia.
The film itself is beautifully shot. It does not take many risks in regard to the way the movie flows but it does offer you some visual artistry even from the opening shot. Brian De Palma made this movie as a studio film but this is not a standard paint-by-numbers studio film. De Palma manages to make it his own and done in his own way with the help of a David Mamet script.
There are lots of moments that feel very studio in some of the master shots but there are moments that feel very indie. Of course, we are talking about the juxtaposition between the opera scene and Malone’s murder at the hands of Netty. The beautiful Canadian landscape to catch the bookkeeper and Malone blowing the head off a dead Capone henchman.
How can you forget the train station steps sequence?
Obviously, De Palma’s homage to the Battleship Potemkin Odessa Steps sequence. If you don’t know anything about that, you need to take a Beginning Film class at the local junior college. The mixture of slow-motion to the point of surrealism and graphic violence is the reason I am a fan of movies.
The Untouchables is a cousin, twice-removed, of the old television series which was the reason this movie was even commissioned. Paramount wanted to make a movie version of the television series but neither Mamet or De Palma had any interest in the television show. That dislike for the original source material gave us the classic film we have today.
The film is a movie that has yet to face a competitor. This film shows a director’s ability to make a studio project but add their own touches to make it distinctly De Palma. The Untouchables has nearly flawless casting, script, editing, photography and score. Let us not forget the score. If you have yet to see this film, I would advise you to watch the train station sequence below and realize what you have been depriving yourself of.