The Untouchables (1987) – 4K Review

For a lot of people, Carrie, Scarface, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, or even Phantom of the Paradise was their introduction to Brian De Palma. For me, it was The Untouchables in 1987. And for the first time, I started to take notice of the language of film.

I was a teen, wholly fascinated by film and pop culture. While I knew that my favorite shot was the dolly zoom in Jaws I just thought it was really cool and hadn’t really given thought to frame composition and camera movement before. And then along came The Untouchables, hitting at just the right time as I began to really explore the idea of film, believing that would be the path life would put me on.

And it also boasted a fantastic cast, with Sean Connery really being the big draw for me. He was just so damned cool to me. I wasn’t the only one, as this earned Connery his only Oscar, for Best Supporting Actor.

De Palma with a script by David Mamet retells the story of Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his group of Untouchables, Connery as veteran beat cop, Malone, Andy Garcia as rookie, George Stone, and Charles Martin Smith as Wallace an accountant, as they go after crime boss Al Capone (Robert DeNiro) during Prohibition.

What follows is a fantastically crafted film that threw me right into my own version of film school, from framing and shot composition, to the use of angles, camera movement, and more I kept coming back to this film through my youth to catch things I hadn’t noticed previously.

This was the first film as a teenager, outside of Star Trek and John Williams scores, that I truly noticed a film’s score, a pulsing, driving impetus by Ennio Morricone which was nominated for an Oscar, as well Costume and Art Direction.

Now it’s been upgraded to 4K and it feels like an almost brand new experience, allowing me once again to see the film afresh. The sound and picture look great, the film stands the test of time brilliantly, and the performances are powerful, there’s not a single wasted frame or moment on the screen.

The 4K boasts the imported, or legacy, extras from the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases. The 4K is also available in a gorgeous-looking steel book edition. This is one of those films that I love, and yet don’t revisit as often as I should. Consequently, it feels a little forgotten to me, so I delighted in examining it anew with this upgraded version now available from Paramount Canada.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen it or if you’ve never seen it, this one makes a worthy addition to your shelf, and you can congratulate yourself on doing things the Chicago Way…

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