Head of Fire - Feet of Clay - Recap

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Mobster Johnny Fortunato is acquitted on racketeering charges when the chief witness against him commits suicide. Eliot Ness, who had been working like a dog on the case, is depressed and down-hearted with the result. He decides to get a late supper at a diner where he runs into old high school chum Frankie Barber. The two men swap war stories about their glory days on the high school athletic fields. Barber informs Ness that he's now the owner of the Chicago Sports Palace and invites Ness to a boxing match.

Ness accepts Barber's offer but is shocked to learn that Fortunato is one of his old pal's best customers. In the meanwhile, the two men watch veteran boxer Pops Gantry pummel a young fighter named Fabiano for seven rounds. Right before the eighth round, Fortunato and six of his hoods arrive at the arena. The round begins and in a pre-arranged signal Gantry drops to the canvass like a sack of potatoes. After the fight, Ness and Barber go back to Gantry's dressing room where Fortunato pays him off for taking a dive. Then Fortunato rubs it into Ness about his previous victory in court. Ness slaps the mess out of Fortunato and leaves.

Barber goes with him and says that his association with Fortunato is no big deal. Ness gives him the old cliche about lying down with dogs. Barber takes Ness to his apartment where they are greeted by Barber's mistress, Chickie Bernstein. After Chickie leaves to get some food and drinks, Barber tells Ness that it's impossible for him to run his sports arena without Fortunato interfering. Just then a truck pulls up below and blasts through Barber's window with a chopper. Nobody is hurt.

The following day Chickie shows up in Ness's office with a piece of paper saying "State 395-A." That's the road on which Fortunato's trucks have been bringing booze into Chicago. Ness and the Untouchables make the bust and then keep the pressure on Fortunato. Then Ness investigates a case of arson at Barber's apartment. The walls are scorched but there's no structural damage to the place. Ness discovers an empty five gallon can of gasoline in one of the closets. Only Barber's prints are found on the can and the license plate for the truck from which the machine gun bullets were fired is registered to a holding company owned by Barber. It appears as though Barber has been staging murder attempts on his own life so as to appear he was being threatened by Fortunato.

Ness and the Untouchables go to the fights. Pops Gantry is fighting again but this time he doesn't take a dive as ordered by Fortunato and tells him that he quits. After the fight is over, Barber's limousine is discovered wrecked and riddled with shotgun blasts. Chickie is inside the limo and is severely injured. There's also a briefcase filled with $24K. Ness hauls in Fortunato and gets tough with him. Fortunato says that Barber was blackmailing him by tipping off Ness as to the location of his booze trucks. The $24K found in the car was Fortunato's payment to Barber for him to stop tipping Ness. Fortunato also says that Barber's ex-wife, Stella Eden, can verify his story.

Stella does indeed verify Fortunato's story. She says that she took the $24K from him to her ex-husband and tells Ness that her husband is nothing but a chiseling crook. A few days later, Ness visits Chickie in the hospital. Though she cannot speak because of her injuries she gives Ness a clue that Frank Barber is still alive. Ness discovers his old friend one night at the Sports Palace hiding in the basement. Barber is hobbling on crutches and has a bullet in his abdomen area but he's still alive and well.

Ness accuses Barber of playing him for a sucker. Barber admits this is what happened but says he still considers Ness his best friend. Then Barber sucker punches his best friend with his crutch, knocks him out, and takes his gun. Coming to, Ness hears several shots coming from the main room of the arena. He rushes in and finds Barber shot and dying in the boxing ring. Fortunatato is also there and also wounded. Ness climbs inside the ring and tends to his dying friend while Fortunato yells out that he has no damn heart at all.