Director Brian De Palma made Kevin Costner a force to be reckoned with (for better, or worse) after casting him as Eliot Ness in gangster epic The Untouchables. Set around the real-life exploits of Chicago mobster Al Capone and the band of maverick law enforcers who set out to put him away, the film boasts a stellar line-up, including Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, and Andy Garcia. Their searing performances helped make the David Mamet-penned pic the box office story of 1987.
Despite his penchant for gore, Brian De Palma proves to be a master of understatement in The Script, The Cast featurette. He simply says of David Mamet's screenplay: "I liked it quite a lot." In fact this is a meaty retelling of the studio machinations and backroom deals which conspired to bring The Untouchables to the big screen ie paying off Bob Hoskins to step aside in favour of Robert De Niro for the part of Al Capone.
This featurette also includes original interviews with the cast, and is worth watching just for Kevin Costner's slip of the tongue: "I call myself idiot - sorry, Eliot." (At this point producer Art Linson was perhaps rethinking the decision to cast Costner in lieu of his first choice, Mel Gibson.)
Production Stories deals in the lighter aspects of making the film. De Palma recalls that Sean Connery refused to wear the costume designed for him by Giorgio Armani, fearing he looked "ridiculous", while ribbing Costner relentlessly about his slightly ill-fitting trilby hat. Other members of the crew also share their experiences of working on the film, like having to switch off all the lights in Chicago's jungle of skyscrapers for authenticity in the background shots. And for your information, that's a lot of lights.
From Alleys To The Valleys
Of course the urban sprawl is integral to every gangster film, but in Reinventing The Genre, cast and crew reveal how elements of the movie western helped to broaden the scope of The Untouchables. The scenes at the Canadian border were a special thrill for Andy Garcia, whose ambitions "to be in a period film and ride a horse" were fulfilled in a single swoop. You can hear more from Garcia, Costner, and Connery in the original featurette The Men.
Finally, The Classic reflects on the rousing reception by audiences across the world and also throws a spotlight on legendary composer Ennio Morricone whose score was the final jewel in its crown.
Disappointingly, there are no audio commentaries to accompany the feature and there are no contributions whatsoever from writer David Mamet, whose script was key to the film's success. Even so, the featurettes are substantial and as much entertaining as revealing. For hardened fans of The Untouchables, this Special Edition DVD is simply unmissable.