The Untouchables (1987)

Composed by Ennio Morricone

Brian De Palma’s Untouchables is an account of how Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and the FBI took down Chicago crime lord Al Capone (Robert De Niro). It’s a heavily fictionalized film, with Ness’ crew and the gangsters getting into several major shootouts and the gangsters participating in some heinous actions that would have been considered psychotically bad business. Despite its heavy inaccuracies, it’s a fun period action piece made better by the presence of Sean Connery as a street wise Irish Chicago cop. Ennio Morricone provided the score. In the gangster genre Morricone had already scored Once Upon a Time in America with a sad, ironically elegiac style. For Untouchables he had to present a more energetic, good vs. evil narrative.

The album is very out of order, with the end title as the first track, the main title placed over halfway through, and a major suspense/action piece with no firm resolution closing things out. The main title cue, “Strength of the Righteous,” is not as heroic as it sounds. It has more of a caper feel with an electronic beat, harmonica notes, mischievous rhythms, and a simple motif to tie it all together. This theme works well for the urban action of a crime-ridden Chicago, as in “On the Rooftops.” “The Man With the Matches” puts it through a slower, more sinister pace for a shadowy scene while the motif discordantly interjects into the tense final minutes of “Machine Gun Lullaby.” Continue reading