Paramount // 1962 // 700 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // August 2nd, 2012
"Incorruptible Agents. Unstoppable Heroes."
Psst! You want some real inside dope? Glamorous though it may seem, the life of a DVD critic ain't always what it's cracked up to be. There are sleepless nights before deadlines, writer's block, and what feels like the ten millionth time you've seen a different movie go wrong for all the same reasons. How many ways can you make the same point without making it read like yesterday's news?
I'm not gonna lie, though. When I learned that my latest assignment involved reviewing the fourth and final season of the Desilu Studios classic The Untouchables, I approached this chore with all the disdain I usually reserve for such onerous tasks as topping off a great meal with a big slice of banana cream pie for dessert!
Any fears I might've been harboring about this Prohibition era procedural going soft and making safe choices during its wind-down to retirement were immediately erased in the season premiere, which featured no less than Jolly Old St. Nick getting caught in a hailstorm of bullets immediately after leaving an orphanage on Christmas Eve. Power-drunk crime czars, over-ambitious flunkies, dance hall dolls, and gilt-edged gun molls; everybody here eventually gets lulled to sleep by the same hot lead serenade.
FBI agent Elliot Ness (Robert Stack, Airplane!) heads up the racket-busting crime unit that gives this series its name. As effective as they've been, one can't help but consider this good guy cadre as hopelessly out manned as Custer's troops were at Little Bighorn. Fortunately, the boys get some much-needed help from Miss Barbara Stanwyck (The Lady Eve), making two guest appearances in the guise of Lt. Agatha Stewart, Missing Persons Bureau.
Lee Marvin, Telly Savalas, James Caan, Nita Talbot, Barbara Barrie, Carroll O'Connor, Ed Asner, and Mike Connors all turn in guest star performances as representatives from the wrong side of the law. As a rare treat, this set presents Harry Morgan -- best known for such law abiding roles as Officer Bill Gannon on Dragnet, and Col. Sherman T. Potter on M*A*S*H -- in a villainous turn, as real-life Chicago gangster George "Bugs" Moran, once Al Capone's most formidable competitor. Morgan became the fourth and final actor to play the role during the series' run.
There are fourteen episodes that make up The Untouchables: Season 4, Volume 1...
* "The Night They Shot Santa Claus"
* "The Cooker In The Sky"
* "The Chess Game"
* "The Economist"
* "The Pea"
* "Bird In The Hand"
* "The Eddie O'Gara Story"
* "Come And Kill Me"
* "A Fist Of Five"
* "The Floyd Gibbons Story"
* "Search For A Dead Man"
* "The Speculator"
Paramount's remarkably restored full screen presentation (occasionally a bit dark, but nothing to complain about) made my work all that much easier, and the Dolby 2.0 Mono mix does a bang-up job as well. The English SDH subtitles came in very handy, allowing me to turn down the volume, and let the wife and kids sleep undisturbed while the Speakeasies roared and the Tommy guns rattled into the wee small hours.
Psst! Anybody asks, you never heard any of this from me. Get it?!
Review content copyright © 2012 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 700 Minutes
Release Year: 1962
MPAA Rating: Not Rated