The Untouchables Screenplay 27: The Original and Best Version of the Classic Film
The Untouchables Script Screenplay 27: A Masterpiece of Crime Drama
If you are a fan of crime drama, you have probably heard of The Untouchables, a 1987 film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, and Andy Garcia. The film is based on the true story of Eliot Ness, a federal agent who leads a team of incorruptible officers to bring down Al Capone, the notorious gangster who ruled Chicago during the Prohibition era. But did you know that the film was adapted from a screenplay written by David Mamet, one of the most acclaimed and influential playwrights and screenwriters of our time? And did you know that there are several versions of Mamet's screenplay, each with different scenes, characters, and dialogue? In this article, we will focus on one of these versions, known as screenplay 27, which is considered by many critics and fans to be the best and most original version of The Untouchables. We will explore the plot, themes, and style of screenplay 27, and explain why it is a masterpiece of crime drama.
the untouchables script screenplay 27
What is The Untouchables?
The Untouchables is a film that tells the story of Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), a young and idealistic Treasury agent who arrives in Chicago in 1930 with the mission to stop Al Capone (Robert De Niro), the ruthless crime boss who controls the illegal liquor trade and bribes most of the police and politicians. Ness soon realizes that he cannot trust anyone in the corrupt system, and decides to form his own team of honest and fearless agents, dubbed "the untouchables" by the press. He recruits Jim Malone (Sean Connery), an old and experienced Irish cop who teaches him how to fight Capone "the Chicago way"; George Stone (Andy Garcia), a sharpshooting Italian-American rookie who changes his name from Giuseppe Petri to avoid discrimination; and Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith), an accountant who comes up with the idea of prosecuting Capone for tax evasion. Together, they wage a war against Capone's empire, facing danger, violence, and betrayal at every turn.
Who wrote the screenplay?
The screenplay for The Untouchables was written by David Mamet, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Oscar-nominated screenwriter. Mamet is known for his distinctive style of dialogue, which is often terse, witty, profane, and rhythmic. He has written plays such as Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo, Oleanna, and Speed-the-Plow, as well as screenplays for films such as The Verdict, House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, and Wag the Dog. Mamet was hired by Paramount Pictures to write the screenplay for The Untouchables after the original script by Oscar Fraley, the co-author of Ness's autobiography, was deemed unsatisfactory. Mamet wrote several drafts of the screenplay, each with different variations and revisions.
What is screenplay 27?
Screenplay 27 is one of the versions of Mamet's screenplay for The Untouchables. It is dated February 1986, and it contains 125 pages plus 25 rewrite pages. It is not the final version that was used for the film, but it is the closest to Mamet's original vision. Screenplay 27 has many differences from the film, such as different scenes, characters, dialogue, and events. Some of these differences are minor, while others are major and affect the tone and meaning of the story. Screenplay 27 is considered by many to be superior to the film version, as it is more faithful to the historical facts, more complex and nuanced in its characterization, more realistic and gritty in its depiction of violence, and more creative and original in its storytelling. Screenplay 27 is also notable for Mamet's handwritten notes and corrections, which show his process of writing and rewriting. Screenplay 27 is a rare and valuable document that reveals Mamet's genius and craftsmanship as a screenwriter.
The plot of screenplay 27
Screenplay 27 follows the same basic plot as the film, but with some significant changes. Here are some of the most important ones:
The opening scene
The film opens with a voice-over narration by Ness, who introduces himself and the setting of Chicago in 1930. He then cuts to a scene where Capone's men blow up a bar that refuses to buy his liquor, killing a little girl in the process. This scene establishes Capone as a ruthless villain and Ness as a sympathetic hero.
Screenplay 27 opens with a different scene, where Ness arrives at a train station in Chicago with his wife and daughter. He is greeted by a reporter who asks him about his mission to stop Capone. Ness answers politely, but he is clearly nervous and unsure of himself. He then sees a man carrying a briefcase who drops it on the ground. Ness picks it up and tries to return it to him, but the man runs away. Ness opens the briefcase and finds a bomb inside. He throws it away just before it explodes, saving himself and his family. This scene establishes Ness as a naive and inexperienced agent who is in over his head.
The recruitment of the team
The film shows how Ness recruits his team one by one. He first meets Malone on the street, where he witnesses him beating up a thug who tried to bribe him. Malone initially refuses to join Ness, but later changes his mind after Ness saves him from an assassination attempt by Capone's men. Ness then meets Wallace at his office, where he impresses him with his knowledge of tax law and his enthusiasm for bringing down Capone. Wallace agrees to join Ness without hesitation. Finally, Ness meets Stone at the police academy, where he tests his shooting skills and his loyalty. Stone passes both tests and joins Ness on the spot.
Screenplay 27 shows how Ness recruits his team in a different way. He first meets Malone at a police station, where he asks him for advice on how to catch Capone. Malone tells him to use violence and intimidation, which shocks Ness. Malone then agrees to join Ness only if he promises to follow his rules and methods. Ness then meets Wallace at a hotel lobby, where he interviews him about his background and qualifications. Wallace reveals that he is an accountant who specializes in tax evasion cases, but he also admits that he has never fired a gun or arrested anyone. Ness decides to give him a chance and hires him anyway. Finally, Ness meets Stone at a shooting range, where he challenges him to hit a moving target with one shot. Stone misses the target, but hits another one behind it that was hidden from view. Ness is impressed by Stone's accuracy and intuition, and invites him to join his team.
The raid on the Canadian border
they also lose one of their own, Wallace, who is killed by a shotgun blast. This scene shows the bravery and camaraderie of Ness and his team, as well as the brutality and ruthlessness of Capone and his men.
Screenplay 27 depicts a different scene, where Ness and his team intercept a shipment of liquor from Canada at a warehouse near the border. They sneak into the warehouse and surprise Capone's men, who are loading the liquor onto trucks. They manage to arrest most of them and confiscate the liquor, but they also face a dangerous situation when one of Capone's men threatens to blow up the warehouse with a grenade. Ness manages to shoot him before he can pull the pin, but the grenade falls near a pile of dynamite. Ness grabs the grenade and throws it away just before it explodes, saving himself and his team. This scene shows the cleverness and resourcefulness of Ness and his team, as well as the desperation and recklessness of Capone and his men.
The death of Malone
The film shows how Malone is killed by Frank Nitti (Billy Drago), Capone's chief enforcer, who sneaks into his apartment and shoots him several times. Malone manages to crawl to his phone and call Ness, who arrives with Stone. Malone tells Ness where to find Capone's bookkeeper, who has the evidence they need to convict him. He then dies in Ness's arms. This scene shows the sacrifice and loyalty of Malone, as well as the cruelty and cowardice of Nitti.
Screenplay 27 shows how Malone is killed by a man wearing a bowtie (who is later revealed to be Nitti), who breaks into his apartment and stabs him with a knife. Malone manages to fight back and wound his attacker, but he collapses on the floor. He then calls Ness and tells him where to find Capone's bookkeeper, who has the evidence they need to convict him. He then dies alone on the floor. This scene shows the courage and determination of Malone, as well as the stealth and savagery of the man wearing a bowtie.
The train station shootout
The film shows one of the most iconic scenes in The Untouchables, where Ness and Stone go to a train station to capture Capone's bookkeeper, who is arriving from Miami. They find themselves outnumbered by Capone's men, who are holding the bookkeeper hostage. They engage in a tense standoff that escalates into a bloody shootout. During the shootout, Ness saves a baby in a carriage that rolls down a staircase while bullets fly around him. He then manages to catch the bookkeeper before he escapes on a train. This scene shows the skill and heroism of Ness and Stone, as well as the suspense and drama of the situation.
Screenplay 27 shows a different scene, where Ness and Stone go to a train station to capture Capone's bookkeeper, who is arriving from Miami. They find themselves in a chase with Capone's men, who are trying to get the bookkeeper on a train. They engage in a fast-paced pursuit that involves jumping on and off moving trains. During the pursuit, Ness shoots one of Capone's men who is holding a baby in his arms. He then manages to catch the bookkeeper before he escapes on a train. This scene shows the speed and agility of Ness and Stone, as well as the action and excitement of the situation.
The trial of Capone
The film shows how Ness and his team finally bring Capone to justice by using his bookkeeper's testimony and evidence to prove his tax evasion. However, they face a major obstacle when they discover that Capone has bribed the jury to acquit him. Ness confronts the judge (Robert Swan) and convinces him to switch the jury with another one from another trial. The judge agrees and orders a new jury to be brought in. The new jury finds Capone guilty on all counts and sentences him to 11 years in prison. This scene shows the triumph and justice of Ness and his team, as well as the corruption and defeat of Capone and his men.
Screenplay 27 shows how Ness and his team finally bring Capone to justice by using his bookkeeper's testimony and evidence to prove his tax evasion. However, they face a major obstacle when they discover that Capone has bribed not only the jury but also the judge (Robert Swan) to acquit him. Ness confronts the judge and accuses him of being on Capone's payroll. The judge denies it and orders Ness to be arrested for contempt of court. Ness then pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot the judge unless he switches the jury with another one from another trial. The judge agrees and orders a new jury to be brought in. The new jury finds Capone guilty on all counts and sentences him to 11 years in prison. This scene shows the desperation and violence of Ness, as well as the fear and humiliation of the judge.
The themes of screenplay 27
Screenplay 27 explores several themes that are relevant to the story and the genre of crime drama. Here are some of the most important ones:
The Chicago way
The Chicago way is a term that refers to the use of force and intimidation to achieve one's goals, especially in politics and crime. It is also a contrast between the lawlessness and corruption of Chicago and the lawfulness and integrity of Ness and his team. The Chicago way is best exemplified by Malone's famous quote, which he writes on the title page of screenplay 27: "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." This quote shows how Malone teaches Ness to fight Capone with his own methods, but also how Ness struggles to maintain his morality and ethics in the process.
The moral dilemma
The moral dilemma is a term that refers to the conflict between doing what is right and doing what is necessary, especially in situations where both options have negative consequences. It is also a reflection of the ambiguity and complexity of human nature and behavior. The moral dilemma is best exemplified by Ness's decision to kill Nitti, who taunts him about Malone's death and tries to escape from custody. Ness chases Nitti to the roof of the courthouse and throws him off, killing him. This decision shows how Ness avenges Malone's death, but also how he violates his oath as a lawman and becomes a murderer himself.
The corruption of power
The corruption of power is a term that refers to the abuse and misuse of authority and influence for personal gain or advantage, especially at the expense of others. It is also a critique of the social and political system that allows such abuse and misuse to happen. The corruption of power is best exemplified by Capone, who uses his money and violence to control Chicago and evade justice. He bribes most of the police, politicians, judges, and jurors to do his bidding, and kills anyone who opposes or betrays him. He also shows no remorse or guilt for his actions, and believes that he is above the law.
The style of screenplay 27
Screenplay 27 showcases Mamet's distinctive style as a screenwriter, which is characterized by several elements. Here are some of the most important ones:
Mamet's dialogue is known for being terse, witty, profane, and rhythmic. He uses short sentences, slang words, repetitions, interruptions, pauses, and overlaps to create a naturalistic and realistic speech pattern. He also uses subtext, implication, irony, sarcasm, and humor to convey meaning and emotion beyond what is said. His dialogue is often memorable and quotable, as it captures the essence and personality of the characters.
Mamet's action is known for being fast-paced, intense, and violent. He uses vivid descriptions, active verbs, specific details, and minimal directions to create a cinematic and dynamic visual image. He also uses suspense, surprise, twists, turns, and climaxes to keep the audience engaged and entertained. His action is often thrilling and shocking, as it portrays the danger and brutality of the situation.
Mamet's homage is known for being creative, original, and respectful. He uses references, allusions, parallels, contrasts, and adaptations to pay tribute to other works of art or history that are related or relevant to his story. He also uses innovation, variation, transformation, and subversion to make his story unique and different from his sources. His homage is often clever and insightful, as it shows his knowledge and appreciation of his influences.
Summary of the main points
with some significant changes in the scenes, characters, dialogue, and events. It explores several themes that are relevant to the story and the genre of crime drama, such as the Chicago way, the moral dilemma, and the corruption of power. It showcases Mamet's distinctive style as a screenwriter, which is characterized by his dialogue, action, and homage. Screenplay 27 is a rare and valuable document that reveals Mamet's genius and craftsmanship as a screenwriter.
Evaluation of the screenplay
Screenplay 27 is a masterpiece of crime drama that deserves to be recognized and appreciated by fans and critics alike. It is superior to the film version that was adapted from it, as it is more faithful to the historical facts, more complex and nuanced in its characterization, more realistic and gritty in its depiction of violence, and more creative and original in its storytelling. Screenplay 27 is also a testament to Mamet's talent and skill as a screenwriter, as he creates a compelling and captivating story that engages and entertains the audience. Screenplay 27 is one of the best and most original versions of The Untouchables, and one of the best screenplays ever written.
Recommendations for further reading
If you are interested in learning more about screenplay 27 or The Untouchables in general, here are some recommendations for further reading:
The Untouchables: Screenplay 27 by David Mamet. This is the original document that contains screenplay 27 with Mamet's handwritten notes and corrections. It is available online at https://library.udel.edu/special/findaids/view?docId=ead/mss0099_0721.xml;tab=print.
The Untouchables: The Complete Script by David Mamet. This is a book that contains the final version of Mamet's screenplay that was used for the film, along with an introduction by Brian De Palma and an interview with Mamet. It is available online at https://www.amazon.com/Untouchables-Complete-David-Mamet/dp/0571149830.
The Untouchables: The Making of an American Classic by Kenneth Tucker. This is a book that tells the behind-the-scenes story of how The Untouchables was made, from Mamet's writing process to De Palma's directing style to the actors' performances. It also analyzes the film's themes, style, and impact. It is available online at https://www.amazon.com/Untouchables-Making-American-Kenneth-Tucker/dp/0806510470.
The Untouchables: The Film by Brian De Palma. This is the film adaptation of Mamet's screenplay that was released in 1987. It stars Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness, Sean Connery as Jim Malone, Robert De Niro as Al Capone, and Andy Garcia as George Stone. It is available online at https://www.amazon.com/Untouchables-Kevin-Costner/dp/B000I9TYO8.