DVD Review: The Untouchables (The Complete Series)

Once upon a time television was a peaceful place. It was a land where a chimp hosted the morning shows, fathers knew best and Lucys were loved. Women weren’t allowed to be shown as pregnant on the screen. Parents felt safe letting the black and white images flow into their living rooms onto their children’s eyes. And then in the Fall of 1959 The Untouchables machine gunned the era of violence onto the picture tube. The exploits of Federal agents fighting underworld mob bosses played up the horrific prohibition exploits on both sides. Cold blooded killers and virtuous lawmen classed weekly in a fictionalized version of Chicago. Now all 119 episodes are wrapped inside The Untouchables: The Complete Series.

The Untouchables told the sensational story of Eliot Ness (Robert Stack) and his daring crew that brought down the infamous gangster Al Capone. Ness was a real Prohibition Agent from the U.S. Department of the Treasury assigned with an impossible target. It’s also true that he was the rarest of law enforcement in Chicago. Unlike hundreds of others, Ness was not on Capone’s payroll to look the other way. Cops enjoyed supplementing their income with cash that came from looking the other way when a shipment of booze rolled down the street. Ness struggled to put together a Oddly enough this series came from the folks behind I Love Lucy. The two part pilot turned into a single movie called “The Empty Chair” was introduced by Desi Arnaz and Walter Winchell. The first episode tells how Ness arrived in Chicago when mobsters ruled all. His job was to bring down Capone (Killdozer‘s Neville Brand). While history is played out with the prosecution of Capone, the show needs a When the show was picked up as a series, Winchell became the narrator for these tales of Chicago in the Jazz Age.

The show quickly became a favorite for actors who like to dress up and be gangsters for a week. Many of them returned to get mowed down by Ness’ men on numerous occasions. Frank Sutton (Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) played a few criminal characters, but always made sure he changed around his facial hair to make a difference. Harry Dean Stanton (Big Love) was a hired goon. This was the Love Boat for folks who wanted to float on a sea of illegal hooch, hot let and cold blood. This was more fun than playing cowboy since you had a snapper suit and little chance of being upstaged by a horse. Among the other name actors who roared into Chicago were Edward Asner, Charles Bronson, Victor Buono, James Caan, Timothy Carey, James Coburn, Elisha Cook, Jr, Jeanne Cooper, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Louise Fletcher, Pat Hingle, George Kennedy, Jack Klugman, Robert Loggia, Jack Lord, Lee Marvin, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leslie Nielsen, Leonard Nimoy, Simon Oakland, Carroll O’Connor, Nehemiah Persoff, Robert Redford, Cliff Robertson, Ruth Roman, Telly Savalas, Henry Silva, Barbara Stanwyck, Rip Torn, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Vaughn, Jack Warden and Michael Constantine.

Today’s cop showsdo their best to give everyone on the team a backstory, an emotional hurt and a desire than express themselves as individuals. Outside of Ness, the Untouchables have very little discernible personality. They are there to serve to Ness. Agent William Youngfellow (Abel Fernandez), Agent Enrico “Rico” Rossi (Nick Georgiade), Agent Lee Hobson (Paul Picerni),
Agent Jack Rossman (Steve London) and Agent Martin Flaherty (Jerry Paris) were for the most part interchangable in the unit. Nobody specialized in weapons or snooping. Rossi was given a bit of depth early since he’s an Italian-American barber who must choose between his culture and the law. Is he willing to join Ness after he witnesses Nitti’s terror? Rossi seems to be Ness’ number one over the four seasons, but this is the Ness show. Nobody can steal the screen from the ultimate

The black and white cinematography brings so much flavor to the show. It makes quite a few moments look like they were part of a Warner Brothers gangster classic. The lack of hues allows the gangsters to be more menacing and the Untouchables to be more stoic. So easy to have a night disappear when you hit play all on an Untouchable DVD. The show lasted four seasons and upset a lot of people. Sensitive mothers were angry at the violence. Italian-American organizations were upset at the bad guys who loved opera. J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI was pissed that Ness was getting credit for FBI busts in later episodes. But these elements make the show so addicting. Currently The Untouchables are untouched on the TV dial. A copy of The Untouchables: The Complete Series is the best way to appreciate their exploits when you get a hankering to remember when law and order brought its own tommyguns to the fight.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The black and white transfers bring out the contrasts as the law tracks underworld figures. There’s a richness to the screen. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. You’ll feel the lush score of Nelson Riddle as clear as the bullets flying across the screen.

The Lucy Show: Lucy the Gun Moll
(25:24) has her tangled with mobsters and only Robert Stack can help her. She shows off her gams.

CBS DVD presents The Untouchables: The Complete Series. Starring: Robert Stack, Bruce Gordon, Abel Fernandez, Nick Georgiad and Steve London. Boxset Contents: 119 episodes on 31 DVDs. Released: May 10, 2016.

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