April 15, 2024


1959 / 102 min
Review by Mr. Paws😺

The original Untouchables was a TV series that ran for five years during the late 50s-early 60s. It starred Robert Stack as real-life federal agent Eliot Ness, who famously took down Al Capone during the prohibition era. The show itself was mostly fanciful fiction, with only the two-part pilot episode being based on actual events.

That two-parter was later recut & released as a theatrical feature, The Scarface Mob, which was pretty violent for its time and boasts a striptease by bombshell Barbara Nichols that would never have made it past TV censors back in the day. It chronicles Ness and his small team of incorruptible cops (and one reformed ex-con) as they try to bust Capone’s illegal operation, one brewery at a time. 

Most of the narrative takes place while Capone (Neville Brand) is in jail, with right-hand man Frank Nitti (Bruce Gordon) running things while he’s gone. Once released, Capone raises the stakes, targeting Ness, his team and even his wife. But of course, Ness won’t be intimidated, even after his wife is assaulted and a trusted partner is murdered.

Extreme hall monitors.
Those who only know of The Untouchables from Brian De Palma’s 1987 classic might find this film a bit quaint, which doesn’t quite escape its episodic TV origins. That’s likely due to time and budget restraints, and why a lot of exposition is urgently provided by narrator Walter Winchell. Still, the story is more or less the same and fitfully entertaining, with some pretty good action and a stoic performance by Stack. As Capone, Brand is suitably menacing, though his Italian accent is terrible.

The Scarface Mob features solid, no-nonsense direction by Philip Karlson, whose extensive film noir background keeps things fast moving and visually interesting. As gun & gangster epics go, it’s no classic, but certainly an agreeable way to kill a few hours...and an enjoyable trip down memory lane for those who might recall the original TV show.


NOTE: Free Kittens Movie Guide was provided with a promo disc for review purposes. Physical supplemental material included with the final product (booklets, artwork, inserts, etc) were not available for review.

GANG BUSTERS - video essay about director Philip Karlson

PHILLIP KEMP ON THE SCARFACE MOB - The film critic discusses Elliot Ness and his depiction in the media, including this film and up to 1987’s The Untouchables.


IMAGE GALLERIES - Posters, stills, lobby cards & publicity photos.


No comments: