Friday, 26 July 2013

Capital Celluloid 2013 - Day 223: Sun Aug 11

The Untouchables (De Palma, 1987): Somerset House, 9pm

This Brian De Palma, one of the director's more successful forays into the strictly commercial sector, screens as part of the Somerset House Film 4 Summer Screen season. More details here.

Time Out review:
Time-honoured mayhem in the Windy City, and if there are few set-ups you haven't seen in previous Prohibition movies, it's perhaps because De Palma and scriptwriter David Mamet have settled for the bankability of enduring myth. And boy, it works like the 12-bar blues. The director's pyrotechnical urge is held in check and trusts the tale; the script doesn't dally overmuch on deep psychology; the acting is a treat. Connery's world-weary and pragmatic cop, Malone, steals the show because he's the only point of human identification between the monstrously evil Al Capone (De Niro) and the unloveably upright Eliot Ness (Costner), and when he dies the film has a rocky time recovering. Costner looks like the kid who got a briefcase for Xmas and was pleased, but painfully learns under Malone's tutelage how to fight dirty. De Niro establishes his corner courtesy of a bloody finger in close-up, and unleashes uncontrollable rage to electrifying effect, most notably at the blood-boltered baseball-bat board meeting. The Odessa Steps set piece at the railway station could maybe do with one more angle to shuffle, and the battle at the border bridge diminishes the claustrophobic grip of the corrupt city, but the narrative thunders to its conclusion like a locomotive.
Brian Case

Here's the famous stairway shootout sequence.

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