Smith, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia; Photo
courtesy of Paramount/
The Kobal Collection
Chicago in 1930: A time of prohibition,
elegant autos and, according to "The Untouchables," gangsters
in Armani suits.
This version of mob boss Al Capone's vicious
reign and the efforts of a select group of Treasury Department
agents to bring him down is a stylish blend of history and
The cast boasts three Oscar winners: Robert
De Niro (best actor, "Raging Bull") as Capone; Kevin Costner,
(director/producer, "Dances With Wolves") as Eliot Ness; and
Sean Connery, who snagged his best supporting actor statue
as Ness' streetwise lieutenant Jim Malone.
Plenty of shootouts, explosions and melodramatic
moments emphasize the G-men's incorruptibility
and Capone's brutality. But the film's most frightening scene
may well be the one in which the Untouchables' tax
accountant brandishes a Tommy gun.
Let's be honest. A tax investigator is
plenty scary when he's armed only with an adding machine.
And most of us run a much bigger risk of being audited
than encountering violent crime.
Capone certainly should have worried a
bit more about his accountant's creative
bookkeeping. In the vast array of firepower available
to Ness and crew, their strongest weapon was the tax code.
The mobster was convicted on tax evasion charges ($1.3 million
in unreported income over three years) and sentenced to 11
years in prison. He was released after 7.5 years, but did
pay $215,000 in back taxes plus almost $58,000 in fines and
Capone's fate makes the money message
of "The Untouchables" crystal clear: Certainly
take every legitimate tax break you can, but don't play too
fast and loose. The kinder, gentler IRS
days are waning, and Uncle Sam will ultimately get his due.