The story of Al Capone and Eliot Ness will be dramatized yet again, this time for the Showtime series Scarface and the Untouchable. The series is based on the non-fiction book by Max Allen Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, and “chronicles the lives of gangster Al Capone and his lawman nemesis, Eliot Ness in Prohibition-era Chicago.” The tale of Capone and Ness has been told before in multiple forms of media, including the Untouchables TV series which in turn inspired Brian De Palma’s stylish, very entertaining, and highly fictionalized film The Untouchables, starring Robert De Niro as Capone and Kevin Costner as Ness.
Deadline has the scoop on the Scarface and the Untouchable TV series, which is in the works at Showtime. The project is being developed by Alex Kurtzman‘s Secret Hideout, run by Heather Kadin, and CBS Studios. The series promises to “delve into prohibition-era politics, industrialization, mass media, the immigrant experience, law enforcement and the birth of organized crime. It will span from the roaring ’20s into the Great Depression, from South Side slums all the way up to the White House. It will show how Al Capone corporatized crime on a level never before imagined, and how Eliot Ness, one of the most revolutionary cops in American history, fought an uphill battle to reform law enforcement, a battle that continues to this day.”
It’s based on the book Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago by Max Allen Collins and A. Brad Schwartz, which has the following synopsis:
In 1929, thirty-year-old gangster Al Capone ruled both Chicago’s underworld and its corrupt government. To a public who scorned Prohibition, “Scarface” became a local hero and national celebrity. But after the brutal St. Valentine’s Day Massacre transformed Capone into “Public Enemy Number One,” the federal government found an unlikely new hero in a twenty-seven-year-old Prohibition agent named Eliot Ness. Chosen to head the legendary law enforcement team known as “The Untouchables,” Ness set his sights on crippling Capone’s criminal empire.
Ben Jacoby wrote the script. While much has been fictionalized or exaggerated about Capone and Ness, Collins and Schwartz’s book drew “upon decades of primary source research—including the personal papers of Ness and his associates, newly released federal files, and long-forgotten crime magazines containing interviews with the gangsters and G-men themselves.” That could, perhaps, be the hook for this series – finally, something that tells the true story of what happened during Prohibition. That would certainly help the series stand out from all the other Capone/Ness-themed films and TV shows that have played fast and loose with history. Not only do we have The Untouchables TV series and its subsequent film adaptation, but several seasons of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire covered this material as well. And just last year, Tom Hardy starred in the very weird Capone, which focused on a delirious, demented Al Capone during his final days in Florida.
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