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The Untouchables

Season 1 Episode 2

Ma Barker And Her Boys

Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Oct 22, 1959 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
16 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary

Ma Barker And Her Boys

Eliot Ness, along with Bill Youngfellow and Martin Flaherty, are closing in on Ma Barker, who is holed up in a house along with 2 of her sons, Lloyd and Fred. But as Ness yells for Barker to surrender, the notorious criminal is anything but willing to come out peacefully.


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  • Taken at face value, this one is exciting though not only is it historically innacurate - it hardly really needs the Untouchables to drive the story.

    Ma Barker and her boys face a bloody end to their criminal spree of terror.

    I can see how Hoover might have burst a blood vessel after seeing that "The Untouchables" series gave Eliot Ness credit for the demise of the Barker gang, but still, as a story, I find this one entertaining with a chance to see the human nature of villains in a little more depth than usual.

    There's a nice use of a building evil here, with good use of long flashback sequences that paint the picture. Claire Trevor chews some good scenery here, enabling her sons' nastiness, belittling her husband, and despising the women who compete for her boys' attention. Her mental illness is well-illustrated when she absolutely must send a birthday cake to Arthur in Chicago, exposing her location in the process. In a way, the plot device illustrates her delusions and misplaced affections just about as well as an hour of television can muster.

    So, though Ness and his men pass in and out of the story without driving much of the plot, in the end I think this is a story well-told in terms of drama and layered suspense.moreless
  • Inconsistent episode

    This episode ticked off FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover because it concerned a case which involved his FBI and he wrote a letter of protest to executive producer Quinn Martin. From then on the show never used real-life villains who had been captured by the FBI although it did use thinly veiled versions of George "Machine Gun" Kelly in The Lily Dallas Story and Bonnie and Clyde in The Doreen Maney Story.

    The episode itself is very inconsistent although we do see one technique here that is never used again in the series: a flashback sequence. Claire Trevor is way too over the top as Ma Barker. Her performance appears to have been parodied by Shelly Winters as "Ma Parker" in an episode of Batman. Future Oscar winner Louise Fletcher does have a nice bit as the moll of one of the Barker boys and Vaughn Taylor does a nice job as right thinking Pa Barker but those are the main highlights of the episode. It also marks the only time in show history that the Untouchables would kill a female.moreless
Vaughn Taylor

Vaughn Taylor

George Elias "Pa" Barker

Guest Star

Joe Di Reda

Joe Di Reda

Fred Barker

Guest Star

Robert Ivers

Robert Ivers

Herman Barker

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions