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DVD Review: The Untouchables: The Scarface Mob

July 25, 2017

By John Corrado

Following their initial airing as part of the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse in 1959, the first two episodes of the popular TV series The Untouchables were edited together into a single feature length film that was released theatrically in 1962, under the subtitle of The Scarface Mob.

The film dramatizes the Prohibition-era exploits of federal agent Eliot Ness (Robert Stack) and his team of men from the Treasury Department as they meticulously work to take down infamous gangster Al Capone (Neville Brand), by striking at the heart of his underground distilleries in Chicago.

While the rest of the series focused on Eliot Ness and his team taking down other notorious criminals from the time, this is the only one of the show’s storylines that directly focused on Al Capone.  Because of this, The Scarface Mob plays seamlessly on its own as a standalone film, based on Eliot Ness’s own memoirs and later providing the blueprint for Brian De Palma’s classic 1987 take on the story.  The show was both groundbreaking and controversial for its depictions of violence and organized crime, leaving an indelible mark on television as a whole.

Whether you view this as its own film or as a two-part series premiere, The Untouchables: The Scarface Mob still holds up as a well paced and entertaining period crime drama, featuring stylish black and white cinematography, solid production values, and a strong ensemble cast.  The film is included here with the original introductions by Desi Arnez and Walter Winchell, which play automatically before the feature presentation, and provide some fascinating historical context.

The DVD includes no additional bonus features.

The Untouchables: The Scarface Mob is a Paramount release.  It’s 102 minutes and rated PG.

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