History Main / TheUntouchables

20th Jan '13 8:53:38 PM PaulA
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[[redirect:Series/TheUntouchables]]

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[[redirect:Series/TheUntouchables]]The "Untouchables" were a group of Federal agents during Prohibition famous for their incorruptibility. Their leader, Eliot Ness, later a wrote a memoir, ''The Untouchables'', with Oscar Fraley.

Works inspired by their story include:

* [[Series/TheUntouchables Two TV series]], in 1959 and 1993.
* [[Film/TheUntouchables A movie]] in 1987, starring Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness.
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20th Jan '13 12:37:25 PM JIKTV
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[[redirect:Series/TheUntouchables]]
20th Jan '13 12:34:20 PM JIKTV
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[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/the-untouchables_8027.jpg]]

->''"He pulls 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."''
-->--'''Jimmy Malone''' (SeanConnery)

A live action television series aired between 1959 and 1963 based on the exploits of (RealLife) [[TheRoaringTwenties 1920s]] Chicago Prohibiton agent Eliot Ness and his group of loyal agents, nicknamed "The Untouchables" because of their refusal to be bribed by the Mob as many others were at the time. Most notable for pursuing bootleggers and gangster AlCapone (and eventually arresting him--[[JusticeByOtherLegalMeans on tax evasion charges]]!) Later adapted as a movie in 1987, directed by BrianDePalma and written by Creator/DavidMamet. It starred KevinCostner, SeanConnery and RobertDeniro. The film itself inspired a second television series in 1993, with Tom Amandes.

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!!The TV show contains examples of:

* BigBad: Capone, even after he is incarcerated, remains the puppet master.
* BondOneLiner: Delivered in typical hardboiled fashion, Ness uses these with enough subtlety to avoid {{narm}}.
* ByTheBookCop: No anti-heroes here.
* CleanUpTheTown
* CopShow
* TheDragon: Nitti, who runs TheSyndicate in Capone's absence and appears in more episodes than his boss.
* {{Dramatization}}: Several Episodes would, in their credits, run the (dis)claimer: Tonight's Episode was based on the book by Elliot Ness & Oscar Fraley, although some events were fictionalized.
* TheFettered: Ness.
* FilmNoir: Or television noir, more accurately.
* FiveManBand: except for the first season, when they are a six man band.
* FramingDevice: Winchell's narration often gives the impression of watching a visual interpretation of a printed newspaper article.
* TheGreatDepression
* HeyItsThatGuy:
** Ness is the pilot from {{Airplane}} and the guy who hosts UnsolvedMysteries. He is epic in all of them.
** Robbins became both a [[Series/{{JAG}} naval aviator and lawyer]].
* JustAStupidAccent: Capone speaks in a heavy Italian accent, despite the fact that the real Capone was born in Brooklyn and spent his entire life in the United States.
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Naturally. Played totally without irony in the series. Doesn't stop the criminals from making routine offers, though.
* MadeOfExplodium: If there is a car crash, it's going to explode. No exceptions, no matter how minor the accident is.
* {{Narrator}}: Each episode is narrated by gossip columnist Walter Winchell.
* NoSenseOfHumor: "Don't you ever smile, Mr. Ness?"
* PoliceProcedural: Somewhere between this and CopShow.
* PrettyInMink: One episode involves a stolen sable coat.
* TheRoaringTwenties
* [[TheFilmOfTheBook The Show of the Book]]: Based on Ness's semi-fictional memoir.
* SoOnceAgainTheDayIsSaved: the basic gist of Winchell's voiceover, although done rather cleverly.
* TheWindyCity at its windiest.
* {{Workaholic}}: Implied. Although we see the criminal of the week's personal lives, the show never follows the Untouchables home. Judging by the late-night hours Ness pulls, he certainly is one (not to mention the [[MarriedToTheJob real Ness]]).
* YouLookFamiliar: typically of the era.

!!The film contains examples of:

* AgreeToDisagree
* AtTheOperaTonight: Robert [=DeNiro=] as Al Capone is seen attending an opera when Frank Nitti comes up and whispers the news that [[spoiler:Jim Malone had been killed]].
* BabyCarriage: The fight in the station.
* BadassBookworm: Oscar Wallace.
* BadassMustache: Malone.
* BatmanGambit: [[spoiler:Ness bluffs the judge overseeing Capone's trial to switch juries (as Capone's had been bribed), by telling the judge his name was in the ledger listing all of Capone's payouts. The DA notes that they didn't find the judge's name in that ledger...]]
* BatterUp: Al Capone famously used a baseball bat to savagely murder one of his subordinates.
** VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory. Capone used a bat on ''two'' subordinates whom he discovered were plotting to kill him.
* BigBad: Capone, of course.
* BerserkButton: Eliot Ness [[spoiler: flips and throws Frank Nitti off a building when he gloats about killing Jim Malone]].
*** This came after [[spoiler:Eliot refused to shoot Frank on the principle of upholding the law and common decency]]. [[TooDumbToLive This is why you shouldn't taunt the cops while you're getting arrested.]]
** When Stone is wounded by a gangster, Wallace goes on a shotgun rampage against an entire convoy of armed bootleggers. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome And Wins!]]
* BittersweetEnding: Capone is behind bars, his deadliest enforcer Nitti gone and his criminal empire shattered. [[spoiler:But two of the Untouchables are dead, and Ness had to violate a lot of his personal code of honor - including his tossing Nitti off a roof in revenge for Malone's death - to get Capone.]]
** Even worse, a reporter notes that Prohibition, the law that enabled Capone to build up his criminal empire, may be getting repealed soon (historically, it was repealed two years after Capone's arrest), meaning that Congress had figured out the law was a mistake. So [[spoiler: Malone and Wallace died]] for almost nothing. On the other hand, locking up gangsters and murderers is still a good idea, even if Prohibition was a bad one.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: Capone orders the deaths of children and beats men to death with baseball bats. Ness is all-American Hero who loves nothing more than his family and getting notes from his wife in his lunch.
** As the film goes on, it turns into BlackAndGrayMorality as Ness uses more questionable means to bring down Capone.
* BloodBrothers: Malone takes Ness to a church, where they talk about a BloodOath and Malone tells Ness they are now bounded by it.
* BondOneLiner: A classic Non-Bond example. Happens after Ness has thrown [[spoiler:Frank Nitti]] off the roof of the courthouse and he lands on the roof of a Model A:
-->'''Stone:''' Where's [[spoiler:Nitti]]?
-->'''Ness:''' He's in the car
* ByTheBookCop: Eliot Ness, at least at first.
* CarCushion: [[spoiler:Frank Nitti after being thrown off the roof by Eliot Ness.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: The mobster with the bowtie. He is seen several times, particularly when he [[spoiler:lures Malone out to be shot by Nitti]] and is later the one who takes the bookkeeper hostage on the train station steps [[spoiler:and gets shot by Stone]].
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: Capone tells Eliot Ness, "You talk to me like that in front of my son? Fuck you, and your family!" In front of his son...
* DangerouslyCloseShave: The opening scene.
* DiedInYourArmsTonight: [[spoiler: Malone died in Ness's arms.]]
* DisneyVillainDeath: [[spoiler: Nitti.]]
* DisproportionateRetribution
-->'''Malone:''' You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull 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!
* DoomedMoralVictor: [[spoiler:The death of Jim Malone.]]
* TheDragon: Frank Nitti.
* EvilGloating: Something [[spoiler:Nitti]] probably should have done '''after''' getting safely off the roof!
* EvilOverlooker: The poster has Robert Deniro's Capone looming large like Darth Vader over [[SeanConneryIsAboutToShootYou Elliot Ness as he is about to shoot you]] and the other Untouchables in [[PistolPose rifle poses]].
* FakeKillScare: Done with a twist -- SeanConnery scares the crap out of a captured smuggler by letting him see Connery demand that his accomplice reveal information, threaten to blow his head off if he won't talk, and then ''literally'' blow the accomplice's brains out. What the surviving captive (who, terrified, tells all he knows) didn't know was that [[spoiler:the accomplice had already been fatally shot in the gunfight just before: Connery was "interrogating" a corpse.]]
* FamousLastWords:
** "What are you prepared to do?" [[spoiler:Malone]]
** "He died screaming, like a stuck Irish pig. Now you think about that when I beat the rap." [[spoiler:Frank Nitti]]
*** Also qualifies as EvilGloating.
*** I believe technically his last words were "AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
*** "[[BerserkButton DID IT SOUND ANYTHING LIKE THAT?!]]"
* {{Fanfare}}
* TheFilmOfTheSeries
* GoingByTheMatchbook: Frank Nitti has the address of Jim Malone (Sean Connery) written on a book of matches. Unfortunately he forgets to dispose of it after killing Malone, so when Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) searches him later it leads to their final shootout.
* HollywoodHistory: In many ways. The real Al Capone and Eliot Ness never met face-to-face, there were 11 "Untouchables" who all lived after prohibition, but most notably, the real Frank Nitti lived several years after Capone's conviction, rather than [[spoiler: being thrown off a roof by Ness. In actuality, Nitti committed suicide.]]
* HollywoodLaw: When they discover the jury has been bribed, they switch Capone's jury with the jury next door. This is, interestingly, actually an ''aversion'' as this [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Capone#Conviction_and_imprisonment somehow really happened]]. Capone's lawyer attempting to enter a plea without his client's consent is ''not'', and, in real life, is a good way to have a mistrial, an overturned conviction, and disbarment for the attorney
** If anything that was probably what the Lawyer was trying to do, if Capone didn't screw it up with his outburst.
* IdiotBall: Ness and Co are in a corrupt town, they know they can't trust most of the police and what do they do with their key witness? They put him in an elevator with just one Untouchable (Oscar the accountant) and don't bother to clear out the elevator of anyone they don't trust. They were really holding onto it that day.
* INeedAFreakingDrink: On asked what he'll do when Prohibition is over, he replies he'll immediately have a drink.
* JusticeByOtherLegalMeans: Getting Capone on ''tax evasion'', of all things. Even Ness lampshades it in the movie when his accountant sidekick keeps pointing it out.
** Justified. In RealLife, the only rap that could put Capone away on WAS tax evasion.
* LetsGetDangerous: After he runs out of bullets Wallace runs towards a gangster, screaming, and hits him twice with the butt of his gun.
* LightIsNotGood: Frank Nitti is always seen dressed in white.
* ManInWhite: Frank Nitti.
* MentorOccupationalHazard: [[spoiler: Jim Malone.]]
* NeverBringAKnifeToAGunFight: Malone provides the page quote.
** Also, this memorable line:
--->'''Malone''': Now isn't that just like a wop, brings a knife to a gunfight!
* NobleBigotWithABadge: Malone is very vocal about his anti-Italian prejudice, but Stone earns his respects.
** Justified in that he at least has his initial suspicions about Stone, that are proven to be correct, given Stone changed his name.
* OfficerOHara: Malone and Mike.
* PetTheDog: Oddly enough, in the opening scene Capone is nicked by his barber, who is immediately terrified, but he lets it go. He then spends the rest of the movie being utterly merciless.
** Actually, Capone is angry because there is blood on his cheek. It turns out to be the barber's blood, not his.
* PsychoForHire: Frank Nitti.
* PutDownYourGunAndStepAway: Subverted.
* ReliablyUnreliableGuns: The tommy gun of one gangster jams during a fight. (TruthInTelevision: a problem real tommy guns were frequently subject to, which is one of the many reasons it was never as popular as gangland movies would have you believe.) To the gangster's credit he tries repeatedly to clear the jam, but it gives the mousy accountant among the Untouchables time to get close enough to KO him with the butt of his shotgun.
* SchiffOneLiner: "I think I'll have a drink".
* ScrewTheMoneyIHaveRules: Moral crusader Eliot Ness earned his men the nickname "The Untouchables" by his vehement refusal of a large bribe from Al Capone.
* ShotgunsAreJustBetter: With the exception of the occasional Tommy Gun, the Untouchables wield pump-action shotguns as their main long arms.
* ShoutOut: The baby carriage rolling down the stairs in Union Station is a direct homage to the famous "Odessa Steps" sequence in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 masterpiece ''Film/TheBattleshipPotemkin''.
** It's even more impressive when you know that the sequence was a last-minute alternative to the original scene, a car/train chase that was prohibitively expensive. (The chase did make the novelization.)
* TheSquad: Also a BadassCrew.
** TheHero: Ness.
** TheMentor: Malone. Also doubles as TheLancer.
** TheAce: Stone. He's the best shooter promoted from the police force, and proves it during the train station shootout. He can also be considered TheBigGuy.
** TheSmartGuy: Oscar.
* SteelEarDrums: The baby in the carriage sequence.
* SuchALovelyNoun: Frank Nitti threatens Eliot Ness's family in this manner.
-->'''Frank Nitti:''' Nice house.
* TeamShot: See the image up there. Also a in-universe example, the four pose for a family photo in a restaurant.
* TooDumbToLive: No, Mr. Nitti, I don't think it's a particularly good idea to taunt Ness about his partner you murdered when both of you are standing on top of a tall building.
* TookALevelInBadass: Oscar, the federal accountant assigned to Ness's team. More an office worker than a field agent, he takes to wielding a shotgun pretty quickly and gets a few Moments of Asskickery during the Canadian border raid.
* TragicKeepsake: [[spoiler: Malone's keychain.]]
* WhatTheHellHero: The leader of the [[CanadaEh RCMP]] calls out the Untouchables' [[JackBauerInterrogationTechnique brutal]] [[DisproportionateRetribution methods.]]
** Let us note that the guy being brutally interrogated was already DEAD when Malone splattered his brains out. The only person that KNOWS said crook is dead is Ness, being the man who killed him quite thoroughly a few moments ago. That is to say, the RCMP officer fell for it as well as the hood.
-->'''RCMP Captain''': ''I do not approve of your methods.''
-->'''Eliot Ness''': ''Yeah, well... You're not from {{C|rapsackWorld}}hicago.''
** Even if the Mountie knew that it was a dead man (since the movie only shows clearly that the reluctant gangster isn't aware that Malone is interrogating a corpse), many would find it a questionable method of doing policework.
** Also an example of WhereDoYouThinkYouAre.
* WhatYouAreInTheDark: Ness is sorely tempted to shoot Nitti during the rooftop chase, when it's just the two of them there. He decides against it and arrests Nitti instead. [[spoiler:But then Nitti [[BerserkButton just had to go taunting]] about how Malone died by his hand, and how he'll still beat the rap...]]
* YouHaveFailedMe: Al Capone beats one of his goons to death with a bat.

!!The 1990s TV show contains examples of:

* GunsAkimbo: Subverted when the senior member confronts a villain who framed him. The villain tries to resist with twin tommy guns. However, the idiot doesn't realize that given how heavy the gun type is, he can't even keep them level and so doesn't do much more than shoot up the floor in front of him with a lot of noise. For his part, the Untouchable simply shoots the villain with two carefully aimed pistol shots.
** In the 1980s version, 'George Stone' has two guns on him at the train station when they separate. Stone notices Eliot has run out of ammunition, charges in, and passes Eliot one of his own pistols.
* MeekTownsman: An episode in which the Untouchables and some of Capone's men go to Kansas, and the mayor is the MeekTownsman. He makes a speech, talking as if he's saying something noble, but he's telling his townspeople [[SomebodyElsesProblem not to help Eliot Ness and co.]] fight the gangsters: "live to farm another day. To father, another day."

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14th Jan '13 5:26:42 AM Match25
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** If anything that was probably what the Lawyer was trying to do, if Capone didn't screw it up with his outburst.
14th Jan '13 4:35:43 AM Match25
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** When Stone is wounded by a gangster, Wallace goes on a shotgun rampage against an entire convoy of armed bootleggers.

to:

** When Stone is wounded by a gangster, Wallace goes on a shotgun rampage against an entire convoy of armed bootleggers. [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome And Wins!]]
9th Jan '13 7:01:06 AM DynamicDragon
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8th Dec '12 8:45:24 AM KingStatham
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** Justified in that he at least has his initial suspicions about Stone, that are proven to be correct, given Stone changed his name.
7th Dec '12 1:49:56 AM artfulscruff
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* BigBad: Capone, even after he is incarnerated, remains the puppet master.

to:

* BigBad: Capone, even after he is incarnerated, incarcerated, remains the puppet master.
20th Nov '12 4:00:14 PM Marin1977
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* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Natually. Played totally without irony in the series. Doesn't stop the criminals from making routine offers, though.

to:

* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Natually.Naturally. Played totally without irony in the series. Doesn't stop the criminals from making routine offers, though.
19th Nov '12 2:14:55 AM Korm
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