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The Untouchables - Season 1, Vol. 1

4.5 out of 5 stars 122 customer reviews

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(Apr 10, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Untouchables chronicles the campaign of Eliot Ness (Robert Stack), the young U.S. Prohibition Bureau agent, to smash the beer and booze empire of Al Capone in 1920s Chicago.

Though certainly tame by The Shield standards, the inaugural 14 episodes from The Untouchables' 1959-60 season are still as potent as a shot of Al Capone's bootleg whiskey. Dames get slapped around. Mugs are mowed down in a hail of wall-pocking, mirror-shattering bullets. Upstanding citizens are brutally terrorized by thugs. Incorruptible Feds are brazenly rubbed out. Sometimes, criminals have the last laugh. It has the visceral kick of watching one of those pre-code Hollywood movies produced before the Hays Office stepped in to sanitize objectionable content. This set opens with the theatrically released version of the two-part pilot episode that set the noir sensibility of the series. Robert Stack (in his iconic and oft-parodied role) stars as Elliot Ness, a straight-arrow Federal agent who forms a special squad of "reliable, courageous, dedicated and honest" men who initially take on Al Capone's corrupt criminal empire in 1929 Chicago. Ness is "a real man," (as a "burly-q" stripper observes). He's just not exactly loaded with personality. Nor do any other of the squad members stand out, except perhaps for Martin Flahrety, and that's only because he's played by a pre-Dick Van Dyke Show Jerry Paris. But from Neville Brand's Al Capone and Claire Trevor's Ma Barker to an unbilled Harry Dean Stanton as a suspect blind newspaperman, it's the legendary criminals and their henchmen (and the great character actors who portray them) who give each episode considerable moxie.

Produced by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball's Desilu Studios, this groundbreaking series is based on the book The Untouchables: The Real Story by Ness and Oscar Fraley. Real? Not quite. Despite Walter Winchell's signature rat-a-tat narration that gives the proceedings a documentary-like tone, liberties were taken in retelling the sagas of Capone, Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, "Bugs" Moran, "Mad Dog" Coll, and others. But the episodes are so pulpishly good that even if Ness was never really involved in a shootout with Barker (and he wasn't), more forgiving viewers will be of the opinion that he should have been. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • 14 episodes from the the 1959-1960 season on 4 discs
  • Feature length version of the 2-part original pilot

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Stack, Walter Winchell, Nicholas Georgiade, Paul Picerni, Abel Fernandez
  • Producers: Bert Granet
  • Format: Subtitled, Full Screen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese
  • Dubbed: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: April 10, 2007
  • Run Time: 805 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (122 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000LV6W00
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,885 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Untouchables - Season 1, Vol. 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Terence Allen VINE VOICE on March 5, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Retro television shows have never done particularly well unless they were set in the Old West. Shows set in the 20's, 30's, 40's, etc, any era outside of the one in which they aired have never lasted long except in three major exceptions - Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and The Untouchables.

The Untouchables succeeded for a number of reasons. First, the veil that had been on the Mafia for a number of years was slowly but surely being peeled off due to gangland killings and the fame of gangsters such as Al Capone, Bugsy Siegel, Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, and others. Even before the Godfather and its outstanding first sequel, the public had a fascination and curiosity with the mob. So take some true events, ture characters, heavily fictionalize them with Hollywood gloss and pathos, and you get a very successful show that made a star out of Robert Stack and brought new fame to a Treasury agent named Eliot Ness.

The Untouchables' First Season collection should not have been split up into multiple sections. That's greed, pure and simple. But the lure of this show - its great characters, performances, grit and intelligence will draw buyers even though they know they're being ripped off. Stack's Ness is one of the best alltime detectives - fearless, relentless, and absolutely ruthless with the bad guys. His politically correct team had everything but a black guy (which would have really stretched believability too far), including a white guy (Hobson), Italian (Rossi), Native American (Youngfellow), and Jew (Rossman). The supporting casts were always excellent, and Bruce Gordon brough the right amount of humor and menace to Frank Nitti, Capone's chief lieutenant.

The Untouchables - Season One, Volume 1 is not untouchable, but it is irresistable.
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Format: DVD
It's an oddity that this stellar series was abandoned on VHS by Columbia House years ago after little more than half of the episodes were released; all of them sustaining unnecessary and tasteless cuts to their original formats. What's even worse is how long it's taken THE UNTOUCHABLES to find preservation on DVD amidst a sea of shows of lesser impact and creative significance, but that's finally changed.

Paramount's new releases are something to be proud of. While the DVD sets do not as of yet boast any bonus features (with the exception of the Desilu/Westinghouse intros for The Scarface Mob), one can surmise that a continued success of the series on DVD may inspire some additions in later releases.

The prints and sound are astoundingly clear; gone are those muddy prints from syndicated 16mm films dubbed to VHS. The DVD menus are replete with decent (but static) artwork with only a few questionable arrangements. It seems they took anything they could out of the vault to put these things together.

No chapter menus, but each commercial break becomes a new chapter, quick and easy to jump to.

The only drawback is the extended WAIT for the next installment of Season 1. We have to wait until DECEMBER 18th for the rest of the season and it's stellar episodes, where the production value heightened and writers finally found their mark (see "The Frank Nitti Story," "One Armed Bandits," or "The Unhired Assassin for proof of a show hitting its stride.)

Bring on Seasons 2 and 3, and yes, even the maligned Season 4. Get Bruce Gordon and the others together for interviews, dig through those archives for the teasers, commercicals, keep Ness and his men coming, tommy guns and brewery-smashing trucks a'blazin!

This is cinematic television worthy of study and enjoyment.
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Format: DVD
I am too young to have seen these when they aired ....I would have been about 5!, but I was curious so I purchased this set..


1) they are stunning transfers...crisp beautiful black and white noirish masterpieces every one!

2) The intros from Desi Arnaz and Walter Winchell on the pilot episode are nice touches

3) the packaging is sensational! All four DVDs (no flippers!) in a case the size of a normal DVD case that holds one this is a fabulously small shelf space hog!

4) while the whole season would be preferred ....13 hours for about $ pretty good value for my money...

5) Robert Stack is and was a very unique talent and the guest stars are a who's who of great character actors and budding stars!
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What a terrific time capsule -- choppers by the dozen, block-long Hudsons, and every hood has a fedora and a moll. This was great TV in 1959 and it holds up well even today. Robert Stack as "Eliot Ness" really didn't have to act in this show -- just react to a terrific bunch of hammy character actors. The rogue's gallery of performers in the first one-half season set includes Bruce Gordon ("Frank Nitti"), Clu Gulager ("Mad Dog Call"), Jack Elam ("Nick Bravo"), Nehemiah Persoff ("Jake Guzik"), Sinatra favorite Henry Silva ("Little Charlie Sebastiano"), Claire Trevor ("Ma Barker"), Leo Gordon ("Whitey Parno"), and Larry Dobkin ("Dutch Schultz"). This was producer Quinn Martin's first hit show, but a long string of successes would follow including, "The Fugitive," "The FBI," "Cannon," "Twelve O'Clock High," "The Invaders," "Streets of San Francisco," and "Barnaby Jones." The audio and video quality of "The Untouchables" set is first-rate, and this is a MUST HAVE for crime drama collectors.
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