The Untouchables is a superb movie, featuring a deservedly Oscar-winning performance from Sean Connery, though it is probably not Connery’s best work. Perhaps Connery’s most-quoted line after those from James Bond is from The Untouchables, where he talks about the Chicago way.
But there was another line from that film that often gets quoted, when Connery confronts a knife-wielder intruder with a sawn-off shotgun, mocking him for bringing a knife to a gunfight.
The Untouchables included Brian De Palma’s hommage to one of the greatest scenes in cinema history, from Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. A mother is shot by troops massacring demonstrators on the Odessa Steps, and her baby’s carriage careers out of control down the steps amidst the violence.
De Palma’s scene referencing Eisenstein can also be seen below, albeit dubbed into a foreign language.
What, then, has all this got to do with the new version of V? Tonight’s episode included several references to The Untouchables; the first was Erica telling the other members of her fledgling resistance group that Anna is fighting dirty, and that if they want to win this war they can’t bring knives to a gunfight. And the second was Erica telling Jack, the priest, that having recruited Hollis, of whom more shortly, she had done a deal with the devil, and broken every oath that she had sworn to protect, referencing the following words of Costner’s Elliott Ness as he pressurises a judge during Capone’s trial.
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!
If you’re going to
steal reference, steal from pay hommage to the best.
My favourite character when I first saw V: The Final Battle was Ham Tyler, played by Michael Ironside. I now realise that Ham’s politics, as reflected in his activities in Vietnam and Latin America, make him well dodgy. Despite that, he’s still my favourite character. Not only was he charismatic, mysterious, tough and capable, he also had an ongoing feud with Donovan, reflecting Donovan’s time as a cameraman in Latin America recording the effects of Ham’s work with the forces of reaction. And Donovan was a bit of a wuss, and his son annoys me. Ham was definitely the man you’d rather have along side you if your planet was invaded by alien lizards in disguise, and you wanted to get a little payback. And so to Hollis. Hollis is clearly the new Ham Tyler. And much needed he is too. I just hope that the current character – an ex-SAS (Australian SAS from the sound of his accent) member turned mercenary – retains some of the edginess that Ironside portrayed so well as Tyler. Added to which, I have to say that I have found the other members so far to be somewhat wet, and a bit of remorseless violence from the resistence would go down a treat. Speaking of which, Scyfy or whatever they are calling themselves now, should be ashamed of themselves for the blatant cuts in the fight scene that opened this episode.
Overall, V is bubbling along nicely. The scale of the alien conspiracy is being slowly revealed, the resistance is growing, there is an inter-species pregnancy that has been well handled so far, and Anna just got very nasty (in several senses, although one of those may have been cut too). Added to that, they are referencing a classic gangster movie, and calling to mind two of the three best baldy hard men actors of all time (Bruce Willis of course being also in the top three) in the same episode. Excellent. Shame they couldn’t shoehorn Lee Marvin, the hardest of hard men actors, in as well. My previous V post ended with the music from the original. I’m going to top that with the opening and closing music from The Untouchables for this one.