of Gary Cooper. mid-Western. all-American presence to him.‘

Bob Hoskins was originally announced to play Al Capone before de Palma‘s longtime friend and colleague Robert De Niro expressed an interest in the role and suddenly Hoskins was out of the picture. With characteristic thoroughness De Niro gained thirty pounds. plucked his hairline and even acquired handmade silk underwear (unseen on screen) from the same source that once supplied Capone.

Without detracting from the conviction of Costner. nor the showiness of De Niro it is Sean Connery. as the film‘s pivot. who. as so often in the past. earns the acting honours. David Mamet has said that he envisaged The Untouchables as: ‘a story about the old gunfighter and

the young gunfighter. Historically. when Ness took over the job he was twenty-nine years old; a fresh-faced. wide-eyed kid. the picture of an innocent. And it occurred to me. what happens if this young innocent. who's charged with defending the law but only understands that in an

Finest screen actor around

abstract way. meets an old disenchanted veteran. the caretaker of the law. soured at the end of his career because of the corruption in the city? What would they have to say to say to each other?’ As De Palma further explains: ‘The original conception was that he should be played more as a kind ofoverweight. older Irish cop who‘s really kind of over the hill. more of a Wilfred

Brimley type and then we decided we should get someone tough. someone who could take care of himself. As soon as we decided to go for a hard guy. Sean was first choice. We gave him the script and he wanted to do it. Kevin was cast then and Sean joined up. It made a big difference.‘

Connery has never been swayed by vanity or the size of his billing and eagerly accepted the challenge of bringing to life the paunchy. wise old Irishman given a last chance to turn the tide ofcorruption. Quite simply. he liked Mamet's writing which he found ‘a revelation. We see so few scripts of this calibre. Malone has a nice humour. His dialogue is beautiful.‘

The Untouchables cost $24 million to make and has. thus far. grossed

$75 million in America alone making it the most financially successful film ever for everyone involved. including Connery. It also seems to have belatedly prodded many critics into the realisation that Sean Connery is one ofthe finest screen actors around. a fact well known by anyone ofperception. With The Untouchables he merely extends and bones a talent that has flourished for over quarterofa century. See The Untouchables and you‘ll witness a master craftsman at work in the perfect setting. a top performance in one ofthe year's finest.

The U ntout‘hables' opens at the ( 'annon. .S'aucht'ehall Street in Glasgow and the Cannon. Edinburgh on 25 .S'eptember.

The List 18 Sept 1 Oct 5