The role of Al Capone, a large and expansive one is one that many actors just love to do. Joining the ranks of players who’ve essayed Chicago’s legendary crime boss is Ben Gazzara. He ranks favorably with such folks as Rod Steiger, Jason Robards, Jr., Neville Brand and Robert DeNiro.
Roger Corman produced this film simply entitled Capone and we see Al Capone from his early days as a hoodlum in Brooklyn going west as Horace Greeley said to seek fame and fortune and he certainly finds it. The Chicago gang wars of the Roaring Twenties have passed into legend and some of those legends are portrayed here if not quite accurately.
In between all the violence is Susan Blakely who bares her all for art in this film. She’s a pleasure driven, hedonistic, flapper from the Roaring Twenties and she’s the girl who sparks Capone. Not a mention of the fact that he was a married man and also probably tried out all the women who went to work in Capone bordellos. It’s no doubt where he got the syphilis that killed him eventually.
The theme of Capone is that one rises in the gangster ranks by the well timed double cross. It’s how Capone rises and how he’s dethroned. None of the gangster lore that has come down says what you see in the film is how it happened. In fact I doubt a lot of it. But it makes a nice story.
Gazzara is a mesmerizing Capone and young Sylvester Stallone is Frank Nitti who succeeds him as head of his organization. Blakely is one sexy woman and a lot of tongues will be hanging out.
Roger Corman gives us yet another version of Scarface. No doubt we’ll see many more.