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Editing and Chaos in The Untouchables

Use the most famous sequence in a Chicago gangster film to master a disorderly editing style

three men in funny positions
The Great Hall, Chicago's Union Station.

The staircase sequence in Brian De Palma's The Untouchables (1980) takes place on location in Chicago's Union Station. The 9-minute-long segment is filmed methodically, using Hollywood's classical editing style. It makes you, the moviegoer, feel grounded in the story.


But the Soviet film to which The Untouchables is paying homage here uses a vastly different style of editing—chaotic and disorienting in nature—leaving you feeling jarred and confused.


In this mini course with Chicago Movies Tours, you will walk virtually into Chicago's Union Station and learn:

  • why Hollywood employs a continuous editing style and how to recognize it onscreen

  • why and how filmmakers diverge from this style

  • how The Untouchables and its Soviet predecessor tackle these two editing systems

This mini course is part of Chicago Movie Tours' series Film 101, Chicago Style.


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