I’ve watched YouTube snippets of The Untouchables, the hit Desilu TV series that ran from ’59 through ’63. But I’ve never watched an actual episode. Partly because the lighting is so flat and the production design and general atmosphere seem so inauthentic, presumably due to the relatively low TV-series budget.

The first 25 minutes of the better funded Some Like It Hot (’59) looked and felt like old-time Chicago, or at least convinced you that it was a reasonable facsimile.

But The Untouchables used a signature image that everyone knew — a main-title drawing of a group of Chicago wise guys up to no good. It was seen at the start and close of each episode, and that image has always bothered me because of the alien-meets-carved-Pinocchio features of the second-from-the-left guy.

If he looked vaguely human there would be nothing to say, but he clearly doesn’t. Plus his hat is two or three sizes too large. Strange vibes.

It’s somewhere between a charcoal drawing and a wood carving with a conveyance of early 20th Century Ashcan impressionism (I’m reminded of George Bellows‘ “Stag at Sharkey’s“, and I especially love the lunging body language of the second-from-the-right guy) and yet none of the other six men are biologically or proportionately beyond the pale. You could call it “Six Gangsters Fleeing An Alien With An Oversized Hat.” I just needed to say that.

I never bothered to research the real-life history of Eliot Ness (played by Robert Stack in the series, and by Kevin Costner in the 1987 Brian DePalma feature version). I never knew until today that Ness’s fortunes nose-dived starting in the late ’30s, and that he had career difficulties and an alcohol problem, and died nearly penniless in 1957, at age 54.