"You want to get Capone? Here’s how you get him. 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."
Description: Sean Connery as James Malone speaks to Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) in the motion picture The Untouchables (1987).
Eliot Ness is a US Treasury agent charged with bringing Chicago criminals to justice in the days of 1920s Prohibition. His main target is the criminal syndicate run by Italian-American mobster, Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone (Robert De Niro) who is smuggling and bootlegging liquor.
To battle Capone, Eliot Ness organizes a team of honest, incorruptible agents called "The Untouchables." Among them, James Malone, a tough, Irish street cop. When Malone first meets Ness, he tells him, "Welcome to Chicago.This town stinks like a whorehouse at low tide." (Malone is later murdered by Capones cronies).
With the help of his Untouchables, Ness begins a war on crime, busting illegal stills and destroying caches of booze in warehouses throughout the city of Chicago.
When Capone hears of a second raid on his criminal empire, he's had enough of Ness and tells his henchmen:
“I want you to find that fancy boy Eliot Ness. I want him dead. I want his family dead. I want his house burned to the ground. I want to go there in the middle of the night; I want to piss on his ashes.”
Capone, who once said, "You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word," offers more words of wisdom:
"I'm gonna tell you something. Somebody messes with me, I'm gonna mess with him. Somebody steals from me, I'm gonna say you stole. Not talk to him for spitting on the sidewalk. Understand? Now, I have done nothing to harm these people but they are angered with me, so what do they do, doctor up some income tax, for which they have no case. To speak to me like me, no, to harass a peaceful man. I pray to god if I ever had a grievance I'd have a little more self respect. One more thing, you have an all out prize fight, you wait until the fight is over, one guy is left standing. And that's how you know who won."
Eventually, Ness arrests Capone for income tax evasion and various violations of the Volstead Act (Prohibition). In 1931, Capone is sentenced at the Chicago Federal Building to an 11-year stint in the newly constructed Alcatraz prison, located on an island off the coast of San Francisco, California.
Note: The TV series THE UNTOUCHABLES/ABC/1959-63 (which inspired the 1987 feature film) told the story of Bruce Gordon as Frank Nitti, an Italian-American mobster who took over the reigns of the Chicago underworld when Al Capone was arrested on tax evasion in the early 1930s. According to the program, Eliot Ness (Robert Taylor) says:
"What if you have a special squad, small, operating on its own; every man thoroughly investigated; brought in from all parts of the country. Men who'll spit on Capone's graft; just a few he can't buy." These men were dubbed 'The Untouchables' by Chicago newspapers because they were so incorruptible, so above taking a bribe."
The Untouchables squad of submachine gun-totting Treasury Agents included: Jerry Paris as Marvin Flaherty, Nicholas Georgiade as Enrico Rossi, Abel Fernandez as Bill Youngfellow, and Paul Picerni as Lee Hobson, Steve London as Rossman.
The TV series is based on the memoirs of real-life federal agent Eliot Ness (co-written by Oscar Fraley).
Although the program was quite popular with the general public, the use of Italian characters in criminal roles aroused the wrath of the Italian-American League to Combat Defamation.
Their group threatened to boycott advertisers over their concerns. On March 17, 1961, the pressure group settled the matter with ABC.
The network agreed there would be no more fictitious hoodlums with Italian names and more emphasis was to be given to the great contributions made by Italian Americans.
Robert Stack reprised his role as Chicago crime buster in the CBS made-for-TV movie The Return of Eliot Ness that aired 11/10/91.
The syndicated crime drama THE UNTOUCHABLES/SYN/1993 featured Tom Amandes as Eliot Ness; William Forsythe as mobster Al Capone; and Paul Regina as Frank Nitti.
The agents on hand in this TV remake included: John Rhys-Davies as Agent Michael Malone, David James Elliott as Agent Paul Robbins, John Haymes Newton as Agent Tony Pigano, Michael Horse as Agent George Steelman, Shea Farrell as Agent Sean Quinlan.