The Untouchables (1987) Film - Essay Prowess

The Untouchables (1987) Film


The Untouchables Film


When the film starts, Al Capone has command over about the entire city of Chicago and supplies illicit alcohol. Eliot Ness is appointed to stop the liquor vendor but he gets frustrated by police who hint at Capone. Ness gets assistance from Jimmy Malone who has experience on the job and offers to assist. They deploy an officer from the academy who has not been bought by Capone, who together with George Stone help raid on one of Capone’s liquor dens quite easily. They become too popular that the media calls them “The Untouchables”. Capone is unhappy and kills one of his aides as warning to others.

Wallace, a senior accountant, realizes that Capone has not paid tax for long and suggests prosecution for him. One of Capone’s men try to bribe Ness to stop Investigating Capone but Ness declines furiously with the effect that his family gets threatened and, therefore given protection. Ness’s group jets out to of the country to frustrate Capone’s shipment of alcohol in Canada. They achieve on this with several killings and capture one of Capone’s confidants, George.

Wallace and George are killed by Nitti, one of Capone’s aides, while Wallace tried to transfer George to a safer house from Chicago. Ness is angry and goes to Capone and his lieutenants over the same. Malone saves him from death and pressures him to ensure that the charges placed on Capone are not dropped. Malone forces Mike Dorsett to reveal to him where Capone’s main bookkeeper is, upon learning that he was the one who betrayed Wallace and George. Malone is ambushed by an armed thug at his home but he chases him away before being shot by Nitti. Before succumbing to the bullet injuries, Ness and Stone come to his house and he informs them of Payne’s train travel arrangements.

With that tip off, Ness and Stone ambush Payne at a railway station where he enjoys security from several thugs. Gun violence erupts leading to the death of all the thugs and the capturing of Payne who is taken to testify on Capone’s untaxed monies. While in the court, Ness notes that Nitti has a gun and orders the bailiff to search him from outside. Nitti kills the bailiff and escapes before being pushed from the court roof to death by Ness.

Stone discovers names from Nitti’s pockets showing how the jury was bribed. The judge ignores this evidence in court which has Ness thinking that he was among the beneficiaries of the bribes. Capone is later found guilty and jailed for eleven years and Ness retires from his job.


One of the anachronisms in this movie is its insinuation that Eliot Ness never married until the 1940s. It is lengthened by the information that he had a wife and children. The fact is that ness married Edna in 1929 and got divorced at around 1938 having born no children at all.

The boxes in which the alcohol from Canada was intercepted by the untouchables had the Canadian maple leaf, which is the Canadian national symbol, on their sides. This leaf did not become the North American country’s national symbol until 1965, more than thirty years after the time that this film was set.

In the film, Ness is seen throwing Capone’s confidant (Frank Nitti) to his death from a Chicago courthouse roof in 1929. This is not the case because Nitti died in 1943 from bullet injuries he caused to himself.

In the plot, there is that point when the judge realizes that Capone was bribing the jurors. The judge, therefore, started switching the jurors to counter the effect of Capone’s corruption. This was not practical in the 1930s. Switching judges md-trial has not happened since time immemorial. That should not have been there.

Literary license

The untouchables, like most other movies is not devoid of propaganda and the untruths seen above. These would constitute the artistic or the literary license for the work. The most notable instance of the untouchables is the death of Nitti. The story is completely inaccurate because the fact is that Nitti was also facing prosecution that he could not escape after Capone was imprisoned. The reality is that Nitti committed suicide.


Some parts in the film are also untrue. When the untouchables are in Canada to seize Capone’s shipment, with the assistance of Canada’s army, none of them dies while they manage to kill all the gangsters. That is quite untrue since the gangsters were equally armed and they shot back.

When the gangster in a white suit is shot by Ness on his chest at the border, we expect to see exit wounds at his back but this does not happen. A shot gun is expected to cause exit injuries when one is shot in the chest normally yet we see no such wounds when Malone picks up the shot gangster and rubs him on the window.

In another case, Ness kills one of Capone’s point men and leaves his body lying by a doorstep. Afterwards, Malone comes around to ‘interrogate’ the body which is lying in a completely different position. This situation is not true because this is a totally different scene occurring at a time when the body must have been taken away to avoid the jam it was causing on the door.

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