Information for Parents
Common Sense Media says Iffy for 14+
Cops vs. the mob in bloody Prohibition-era drama.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this classic top-cop vs. the mob drama has bloody violence and deaths of heroic and sympathetic characters, principally in shootings (including head shots) and shotgun blasts. A bomb explosions kills a child, and another in a baby carriage is nearly caught in a crossfire. There's a messy aftermath of a notorious shock scene in which Al Capone beats a character to death, just offscreen, with a baseball bat. Swearing is heavy ("f--k" and "s--t," etc.). Most characters smoke and drink.
- Families can talk about the violence in this movie. How realistic is it? How does it affect you after watching it? Does who is commiting the violence make a difference?
- The newspapers in the film seem to be friendlier with Al Capone than with Eliot Ness. Are there criminals today who have the media spotlight? What is so appealing about colorful criminal characters, if anything?
- Elliot Ness ends up breaking the law himself. Do the means justify the end?
- This movie is based on real lives and real events. How have they been changed or dramatized? How can you find out the real story?
The good stuff
Positive messages: Somewhat mixed message: It is possible to resist overwhelming public corruption. But to bring down a crime lord, "incorruptible" Eliot Ness must cross the line himself, becoming a liar and a revenge-driven murderer. In short, good guy must be more ruthless than the bad guys.
Positive role models: Eliot Ness is an upstanding family man and bribe-proof lawman who nonetheless resorts to vigilante justice and blackmail in pursuit of justice (and revenge). Many police and politicians are corrupt. There's a brief audio clip of radio's Amos and Andy sitcom, now considered racist, plus slurs about Irish and Italians.
What to watch for
Violence: Much shooting with revolver, rifle, and shotgun, with and bloody wounds and death (including head shots).
Capone fatally beats a man with a baseball bat. Bomb blasts (one of which instantly kills a little girl). A villain falls to his death from a great height.
Sexy stuff: Not an issue
Language: Plenty of swearing, including "f--k," "Goddamit," "whore," "s--t," "ass," "piss," and "Christ" used as an exclamation. Also, some ethnic slurs, like "wop."
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs and smoking: The Prohibition era and drinking alcohol are key elements in the plot; Ness orders police not to drink while Prohibition is in force (smoking is OK, though), though even the heroic "Untouchables" drink when nobody is looking. When Prohibition is lifted at the end, Ness himself turns out to be a drinker.