April 3, 1931. Vic's Diner, near the Chicago railroad yards; on the surface, no different than a hundred other diners. The blue plate special is 35 cents; a nickel would buy either a hamburger, or a cup of Joe and a sinker. The backroom is the headquarters of Victor Kurtz, bootleg czar of the Chicago southside. Right now he, along with his enforcer Holly Kester, The Torpedo, are having a meet with the boss of the northside, Monk Lyselle and his lieutenant Carl Danzig. Victor Kurtz uses a knife to draw a line bisecting a map of Chicago, then he says, "Cross that line and you get cut down," and then jams the knife through the map and into the table, making his point. No more knocking off each other's speaks, warehouses and booze trucks.
Everything's quiet until the night of September 3rd. A 3-truck convoy carrying Canadian whiskey to Chicago is hijacked. One of the masked bandits is Enrico Rossi; Eliot Ness and Lee Hobson and the rest of the Untouchables are there, too. Since the trucks belong to Victor Kurtz, Ness figures that he will blame Monk Lyselle for the heist. The truce had lasted 5 months; Holly Kester had retired his gun, which made his main squeeze Rita happy. Now the truce was over, and Holly Kester has to go back to packing heat again. Victor Kurtz calls for a meet with Monk Lyselle; Kurtz figures he stole his booze, so Lyselle has to replace it with 3 trucks of whiskey within 24 hours, or else. Lyselle says he didn't hijack the booze, and refuses to replace it. So it's "or else."
Victor Kurtz has 2 of his boys, Burt and Charlie, hijack 3 of Lyselle's booze trucks. Lyselle retaliates by having his boys machine gun Frank and Holly Kester during a high-speed car chase; Frank dies. Victor Kurtz tells Holly Kester that he will even the score with Lyselle-- he's "gonna even him right down to the ground." Holly Kester seems nervous at the idea of being the torpedo again.
September 6, 1931. Outside the Odeon Theatre, an all-night movie house, Holly Kester and Burt Engle wait for Lyselle's hitman, Carl Danzig, to emerge. Kester tells Burt he has lost his nerve, he can't do the hit. Burt says he will do it for him. When Danzig comes out, Burt shoots him. Danzig, dying, manages to shoot Burt in the back as he runs away. Dead men tell no tales; the tale that Kester tells his boss Victor Kurtz is that he did the hit, and Burt got killed because he disobeyed his order to stay in the getaway car like he was supposed to. Kurtz buys the story.
But Holly Kester tells his moll Rita the truth; he is washed up. She asks, with a leading question, "Well, you've got a lot of money, haven't you?" She thinks they could go away together, and enjoy life. Kester tells her there is no retiring from this business; no pension, no going away. He's been in the mob for 30 years, he knows too much. The only way out is if you are dead. Rita is disappointed to hear that. Next week, Eliot Ness and his Untouchables put the heat on the bootlegging empire; they smash 1,400 cases of illegal whiskey. Reeling from the loses, Lyselle hijacks 6 trucks of good Canadian whiskey that Kurtz was importing, worth 100 grand; triggerman Kester, having lost his nerve, is helpless to stop them.
Victor Kurtz yells at Kester, "6 trucks! Between Ness and Lyselle they're drying me up, the speaks are screaming." Kurtz gets a tip from Phil Aragon that Lyselle is stashing Kurtz's booze in his funeral joint, the Lyselle Brothers Mortuary, downstairs where they make the statues; Kurtz tells Kester to get his booze back. Another triggerman, Charlie, tries to get Kester's job; when Kurtz won't hire him to replace Kester, Charlie shoots Kester, hitting him in the arm. Bleeding badly, Kester goes to Rita's apartment. She tells him, "Get outta here, old man." (So much for true love.) Kester goes to Ness and spills the beans. At the funeral place that night, Kurtz shoots Lyselle. Then Ness and his men barge in; Ness shoots Kurtz. One of Kurtz's triggermen starts blasting with a machine gun; Ness shoots him. If Kester hadn't retired, that could be him dead on the floor. Ness doesn't arrest Kester. And so Kester blows town, empty-handed. But he's lucky to be alive. (synopsis by: kdh)