The Untouchables

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The ideas of a time are like the clothes of a season: they are as arbitrary, as much imposed by some superior will which is seldom explicit. They are utilitarian and political, the instruments of smooth-running government.
Wyndham Lewis
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The Untouchables is a 1987 film about how Elliot Ness and a small band of men took down Alphonse Capone.

Directed by Brian DePalma. Written by David Mamet.
AL CAPONE. He ruled Chicago with absolute power. No one could touch him. No one could stop him. - Until Eliot Ness and a small force of men swore they'd bring him down. taglines

Elliot Ness

  • Yes, surprise is half the battle. Many things are half the battle. Losing is half the battle. Let's think about what is all the battle.
  • Let's do some good!
  • It's nice to be married.
  • I have foresworn myself. I have broken every law I have sworn to uphold, I have become what I beheld and I am content that I have done right!
  • [After throwing Nitti off the rooftop] Did he sound anything like that?
  • Never stop fighting till the fight is done!

Jim Malone

  • You just fulfilled the first rule of law enforcement: Make sure when your shift is over you go home alive.
  • That's the second rule of police work. If you want to keep a secret, don't tell the boss.
  • Sure, here's my warrant. [hits the thug with his gun] How do you think he feels now? Better, or worse?
  • The Lord hates a coward.
  • You wanna get Capone? Here's how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone!
  • Heh, isn't that just like a Wop? Brings a knife to a gunfight. Get outta here you Dago bastard! Go on, get your ass out of here!
  • "In hell," you say? You going to talk? You're gonna talk, pal. You're gonna beg to talk, 'cause somebody's gonna talk. [grabs a dead thug lying outside, hauls him up] Hey you, on your feet. We need you to translate this book. And you are going to. [shoves revolver into corpse's mouth] I won't ask you again. Oh, what's the matter? Can't you talk with a gun in your mouth?! I'm gonna count to three. One...two...three! [blows corpse's brains out]
  • All right, enough of this running shit!
  • Here endeth the lesson.
  • Everybody needs a friend.
  • He's as dead as Julius Caesar.
  • Oh, what the hell — you've gotta die of something!

Alphonse Capone

  • Life goes on. A man becomes preeminent, he's expected to have enthusiasms. Enthusiams... Enthusiasms... What are mine? What draws my admiration? What is that which gives me joy? Baseball! A man stands alone at the plate. This is the time for what? For individual achievement. There he stands alone. But in the field, what? Part of a team. Teamwork.... Looks, throws, catches, hustles - part of one big team. Bats himself the live-long day, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and so on. If his team don't field... what is he? You follow me? No one! Sunny day, the stands are full of fans. What does he have to say? "I'm goin' out there for myself. But... I get nowhere unless the team wins."
  • You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.
  • People are gonna drink - you know that, I know that, we all know that, and all I do is act on that. And all this talk of bootlegging - what is bootlegging? On a boat, it's bootlegging. On Lake Shore Drive, it's hospitality. I'm a businessman!
  • Somebody messes with me? I'm gonna mess with him. Somebody steals from me? I'm gonna say you stole; not talk to him for spitting on the sidewalk. Understand? Now, I have done nothing to hurt these people, but they are angered with me, so what do they do? Doctor up some income tax, for which they got no case, to annoy me. To speak to me like men? No, to harass a peaceful man. I pray to God if I ever had a grievance, I'd have a little more self-respect.
  • And I'll tell you one more thing: You've got an all-out prizefight? You wait 'til the fight's over, one guy's left standing, and that's how you know who won.
  • I want that son-of-a-bitch dead. I want him DEAD!
  • I want you to get this fuck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!
  • You talk to me like that in front of my son?! Fuck you and your family!
  • You fuck, you got nothing! You're nothing but talk and a badge! You hear me? 'Cause you got nothing! You got nothing in court, you don't got a bookkeeper, you got NOTHING! NOTHING! And if you were a man, you would've done it now! You don't got a thing, you punk!
  • Get out. You're nothing but a lot of talk and a badge.


[Ness has just been stopped by Malone for littering.]
Ness: Don't you have more important things to do?
Malone: Yeah, but I'm not doing them right now.

[Malone and Ness talking about how to get Capone.]
Malone: What are you prepared to do?
Ness: Everything within the law.
Malone: And then what are you prepared to do?

[Malone is looking for another man for the raid and spots Wallace.]
Malone: You carry a badge?
Wallace: Yes.
[Malone hands Wallace a shotgun.]
Malone: Carry a gun.

[Chief Dorsett pulls Malone aside as the team, in street clothes, heads out for their first raid.]
Dorsett: Jimmy? What the hell are you dressed up for, Halloween?
Malone: Shut up. I'm working.
Dorsett: Where?
Malone: The circus!

[Ness sees Malone toying with a St. Jude medallion.]
Ness: What is that?
Malone: [surprised] What is that?
Ness: Yes, what is it?
Malone: God, I'm with the heathen. [shows medallion, with a key on the chain] That is my call box key, and that is St. Jude.
Stone: Santo Jude. He's the patron saint of the lost causes.
Malone: And policemen.
Ness: Patron saint of policemen?
Malone: Everybody needs a friend.

[Ness has just shot a gangster during the raid at the Canadian border.]
Ness: I had to kill him.
Malone: Oh, yeah. He's as dead as Julius Caesar.
[sees Ness is still not at ease]
Malone: Would you rather it was you?
Ness: No, I would not.
Malone, Well, then, you've done your duty. Go home and sleep well tonight.

Mountie: Mister Ness, I do not approve of your methods!
Ness: Yeah? Well, you're not from Chicago.

[Ness confronts Capone, along with his son and several thugs]
Thug: Something you want here?
Ness: My friend was killed today.
Thug: I don't care.
Ness: You don't care?
[Ness punches the thug out, and gets restrained by two others]
Ness: Now he does. [to Capone] Come on here, Capone! You want to fight? You and me, right here?! That's it, come on! What's the matter? You afraid to come out from behind your men, you afraid to stand up for yourself?!
Capone: You want to do it now?! You want to do it right now?!
Ness: Yeah! Come on, you guinea son-of-a-bitch!
Capone: What?! You talk to me like that in front of my son?! Fuck you and your family!
Ness: Fu--
[Ness goes for his gun, while all of Capone's thugs pull out there guns and point them at Ness]

[Ness confronts Capone after he is found guilty]
Ness: Never stop! never stop fighting till the fight is done!
Capone: What'd you say? What're you saying?
Ness: I said, "Never stop fighting till the fight is done"!
Capone: What?
Ness: You heard me, Capone. It's over.
Capone: Get out. You're nothing but a lot of talk and a badge.
Ness: Here endeth the lesson.

Reporter: Mr. Ness? Any comment for the record?
Ness: I just happened to be there when the wheel went 'round.

Reporter: They say they're going to repeal Prohibition. What will you do then?
Ness: I think I'll have a drink.


  • AL CAPONE. He ruled Chicago with absolute power. No one could touch him. No one could stop him. - Until Eliot Ness and a small force of men swore they'd bring him down.

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