chapter  13
28 Pages

The Utility of Various Research Approaches in the Empirical Exploration of Suspenseful Drama

WithMinet de Wied and D olf Zillmann

Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables (1987) tells the story of a naive federal agent named Eliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner) and a seasoned street cop (played by Sean Connery) who join forces in their battle against both underworld crime and police corruption in prohibition-era Chicago. The film begins with an inter­ view of Al Capone (played by Robert DeNiro) by newspaper reporters. After Capone states that he is not involved in violent coercion of store owners to buy his liquor, the scene changes to a local store where the owner tells Capone’s men that he will not sell their alcohol. Assured that there is no problem with that, the storekeeper turns his attention to a little girl, a familiar customer and neighbor. Capone’s sinister men depart, but leave behind a briefcase. Viewers expect malice. However, the innocent little girl sees the briefcase and, in an effort to help, picks it up and runs after the men. As she stands in the doorway, calling “Mister, . . . Mister, . . . you forgot your . . . , ” calamity is in the air: Yes, the briefcase explodes.