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4K Ultra HD Review: The Untouchables: 35th Anniversary (SteelBook Edition)

June 7, 2022

By John Corrado

Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, the director’s 1987 film adaptation of the classic TV series, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. In honour of the occasion, Paramount has released the film for the first time on 4K Ultra HD, in both regular and SteelBook editions.

De Palma’s film is set during Prohibition in Chicago, and stars Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness, a federal agent from the Bureau of Prohibition who is working to take down the powerful bootlegger Al Capone (Robert De Niro).

The cast is rounded out by Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith as the other members of Ness’s elite team, and Sean Connery as veteran Irish cop Jimmy Malone, a performance that won him the only Oscar of his career.

These strong performances are matched by the excellent widescreen cinematography by De Palma’s frequent collaborator Stephen H. Burum, whose symbolic framing of the characters within a scene (such as the opening overhead shot of De Niro in the barber’s chair, or a conversation between Connery and Costner in a church) adds layers to the film. The editing by Gerald B. Greenberg and Bill Pankow (both De Palma regulars) helps build tension, including a perfectly timed baby carriage going down the steps in an homage to Battleship Potemkin that raises the stakes during a railway station shootout.

Replete with his usual visual style, The Untouchables is intended as De Palma’s homage to the old gangster pictures of the 1930s, and the classic mood of his tribute is heightened by David Mamet’s sharp script and Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-nominated musical score. It was a commercial success at the time of its initial release in the summer of 1987, and remains an entertaining and well acted throwback gangster film, which has been given an admirable home entertainment upgrade with this release.

The 4K format presents a true upgrade, especially in the nighttime scenes, highlighting shadows as well as dark suits and cars. The 2160p restoration maintains a strong filmic look during daytime scenes as well, such as the shootout at the Canadian border, offering an overall excellent image that serves as a noticeable visual improvement over previous releases of the film.

The SteelBook edition has a glossy finish, with cover art that is designed to look like the label on a whiskey bottle (complete with “Aged 35 Years” at the bottom), with a circular image of the four main characters in the centre. There a few “bullet holes” on the front and back cover, which features an image of De Niro’s Capone, and inside is a shot of the four men on horseback. This seems to be the clear choice for collectors, though the regular edition also boasts nice some cover art and a slipcover.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

There are no new bonus features included on this release, though a number of legacy bonuses have been ported over. Similarly, Paramount didn’t include a regular Blu-ray disc with this 4K set, through a code for a digital copy is included in the package.

The Script, The Cast (18 minutes, 31 seconds)

Production Stories (17 minutes, 18 seconds)

Re-Inventing the Genre (14 minutes, 24 seconds)

The Classic (5 minutes, 39 seconds)

Original Featurette: “The Men” (5 minutes, 26 seconds)

Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes, 49 seconds)

The Untouchables is a Paramount Home Entertainment release. It’s 119 minutes and rated 18A.

Street Date: May 31st, 2022

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