The main story line of the film is Dick Tracy's efforts to bring down Big Boy Caprice's gangster empire and the search for a mystery assassin known as The Blank. A secondary storyline follows Tracy's romances with Tess Trueheart and Breathless Mahoney. The third sub-plot is Tracy's rescuing a young orphan boy, The Kid, who looks up to Tracy as a father figure. All this becomes quickly tangled when Tracy finds himself framed for the murder of Chicago's beloved (although corrupt) District Attorney, and Caprice's empire begins to take over the city itself.
Classical Hollywood cinema has traditionally presented its viewer with a unified narrative. The Untouchablesis a perfect example of this. The film's narrative deals with Treasury Officer Elliot Ness's quest to get criminal Al Capone behind bars. This is a goal that is clearly and explicitly delineated from the start, and most scenes follow the protagonist's actions from that point on. At first he tries to achieve this goal by himself, which leads to failure when he finds out that the rest of the police force is corrupt. As he walks home, depressed about his embarrassing failure, the character of Maloneis introduced. The death of Malone not only has the plot function of strengthening Ness's resolve to catch Capone, it also functions structurally as reinforcement of the audience's sympathy for his quest.
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