From TV to movie: “The Untouchables”

The Untouchables Movie PosterFor more than 30 years, one of Hollywood’s most frequent sources for movie  material has come in the form of successful TV shows. This practice has had  mixed results, ranging from the highly successful “Star Trek” franchise, to  unmitigated flops like “Car 54 Where Are You,” which, rumor has it, was released  in 1994. One of the best efforts in this genre is “The Untouchables,” the 1987  film based on the 1959-1953 television series of the same name  that featured Robert Stack. Directed by Brian De Palma, “The Untouchables,” staring Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness, airs on AMC Friday, April 23rd at 5:30 pm.  Costner is joined by a strong supporting cast, including Sean Connery, Andy  Garcia, Charles Martin Smith and Robert De Niro as Al Capone.

“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.