The Untouchables

Season 1 Episode 28

The Frank Nitti Story

1
Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Apr 28, 1960 on ABC
9.2
out of 10
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Episode Summary

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The Frank Nitti Story
AIRED:

Now that Prohibition had been repealed, the syndicate is looking for new sources of revenue. Frank Nitti decides to expand his empire and goes after small theaters with his extortion racket.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Nitti?

    10
    Though wildly inaccurate historically this episode nonetheless gives an abridged account of the real Frank Nitti's extortion scheme against Hollywood studios though in this episode it's only the theatres and not the studios themselves. Bruce Gordon is at his nastiest in this one. Beatings, killings, and acid tossing are among his misdeeds here. The character would be a little kinder and gentler during subsequent seasons though not by much.



    The episode also has an unhappy ending if you happen to be a Nitti fan. "The Enforcer" buys the farm at the end dying in a blazing gun battle with the Untouchables in a Chicago subway. But not to worry, Nitti would rise from the ashes in Season Two and continue with the show for the duration of its run. You couldn't kill him off and you couldn't make him run because he was an ole boy raised on machine guns.



    All around this is a classic episode. Fine performances not just from Gordon but from Richard Anderson, Myron McCormick, Phyllis Coates, and Frank DeKova as well. Take special note of DeKova's performance as real life hood and Nitti triggerman Louis Campagna. He doesn't have a line of dialogue in the episode yet manages to expertly convey a sense of menace. Campagna too dies in the blazing subway gun battle but although DeKova would return for several more appearance the character would not.moreless
Richard Anderson

Richard Anderson

Sidney Rogers

Guest Star

Myron McCormick

Myron McCormick

Ramsey Lennox

Guest Star

Dick Foran

Dick Foran

Jerry Dockstone

Guest Star

Bruce Gordon

Bruce Gordon

Frank Nitti

Recurring Role

Frank Wilcox

Frank Wilcox

D.A. Beecher Asbury

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (5)

    • The murder of Ellie Morley in this episode is based upon a real life incident relating to the real Frank Nitti's Hollywood extortion scheme. A man named Nick Circella was functioning as the go-between for Nitti's union thugs in Hollywood and the boys back home in Chicago. When the roof caved in, Circella was arrested and started to talk. His mistress, one Estelle Carey, was murdered and most believe this represented a warning to Circella to keep his mouth shut. He got the message and soon clammed up. Unfortunately for Nitti and the boys, the wives and families of other witnesses were placed in protective custody and they couldn't be intimidated by this method.

    • The characters of Sidney Rogers and Ramsey Lennox are based upon Willie Bioff and Harry Browne, real-life Nitti stooges who were the front men in his extortion scheme against the Hollywood studios.

    • The character of J. N. MIller is based on United Artists studio head Joseph Schenk who paid extortion money to the real Nitti's stooges and got himself a two-year prison sentence as a result.

    • The real Frank Nitti (real name Frank Nitto) died on March 19, 1943 as a result of a self-administered gunshot wound to the head. Nitti had recently been indicted on various racketeering charges related to his extortion scheme against several major Hollywood studios. Nitti left behind his third wife, one Annette Cavaretta, and an adopted 9 year old son, Joseph. Joseph Nitto would later grow up to be a successful businessman although he would change his last name back to that of his birth parents.

    • Walter Winchell says, "The death of Cam Allison, who had been transferred from St. Louis to join the Untouchables only a few short months before, moved Eliot Ness deeply."  That would be real time, since episode # 16, The St. Louis Story, was broadcast on January 28, 1960 and this episode on April 28, 1960.  But The St. Louis Story takes place in 1931, and this is 1934, so it's really been 3 years in "story" time.

  • QUOTES (24)

  • NOTES (3)

    • Bruce Gordon receives a Special Guest Star credit for the first and last time in the series.

    • One thing different about this episode is the role of Frank Nitti in the Mob hierarchy. Unlike other episodes, he's not the big boss running things from the conference room of the Montmarte Cafe. Here, he's merely a Mob operative and it's a sinister, unseen council which calls the shots and pulls the strings.

    • Both actors Bruce Gordon (who played Frank Nitti), and Anthony George (who played Agent Cam Allison), wanted out of the series, so both characters were killed off in this, the last show of the season. Outside of the pilot episodes, Bruce Gordon had only appeared in 5 regular-season shows. However, Bruce Gordon later decided to come back for season 2 (and 3 and 4). The writers could do this, because the shows are not in any chronological order. However, the writers did change the fact that the real-life Frank Nitti lived until March 19, 1943. (Frank Nitti's real name, by the way, was Francesco Raffaele Nitto.)

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Cumberland House recently published a book entitled After Capone: the Life and World of Chicago Mob Boss Frank "the Enforcer" Nitti written by Mars Eghighan, Jr. It's the first full-scale biography ever written about Nitti and it clears up a lot of misconceptions and mysteries regarding his life and his tenure as head of the Chicago syndicate.

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