“The Untouchables” is a somewhat embellished story of the U.S. government’s ongoing battle against Al Capone’s criminal empire during Prohibition years. Capone, taking advantage of widespread corruption in Chicago’s City Hall and police department, seems to have the entire town under his control. The U.S. Treasury Department entrusts Elliot Ness to put together a team of federal agents whose moral character make them immune to the kinds of graft and bribery that have infested other agencies. While Ness and his men conduct numerous raids against Capone’s bootlegging operation, it becomes increasingly clear that a direct connection to Capone and the illegal alcohol will be hard to prove. Another problem for Ness comes in the form of Al Capone’s top enforcer, Frank Nitti, who threatens both Ness and his family. As the battle continues, Ness discovers what might be Capone’s real vulnerability, which is the fact that “Big Al” has not filed an income tax return in four years.
“The Untouchables” was well received by audiences and critics alike. Sean Connery’s performance as police officer Jimmy Malone resulted in Connery winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Motion pictures based on TV shows were not a new idea in 1987, but “The Untouchables” differed from the “Star Trek” films by using an entirely new cast. The success of “The Untouchables” probably convinced producers that TV shows could be recycled without the original actors, as witnessed by the dozens of big screen adaptations we’ve witnessed in the last 20 plus years.