Capone (1975)

There’s some decent names – Ben Gazzara, Harry Guardino, blink-and-you’ll miss-him John Cassavetes – in this cheap biopic produced by Roger Corman but you can only assume they were on their uppers when it was made because it’s not particularly interesting. Ben Gazzara’s depiction of Capone borders on parody at times, and the film’s opinion of him is unclear to say the least. It gives little insight into Capone’s early years and while it sometimes has characters describing him as an animal it also depicts him as a caring, almost sympathetic, lover of a hard-living (but lusciously soft-bodied) flapper played by Susan Blakely. The plot takes us through Capone’s life from the late teens to the mid-forties when, riddled with syphilis, his mind shot, he fishes at a swimming pool and raves about the Bolsheviks to people who aren’t there. It probably touches all the bases – without really telling us much – but the truth of the story it relates is perhaps open to question. I was surprised to see a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone pop up as Capone’s right-hand man who sells his boss out so that he can wear the crown. There’s not much here about Stallone that suggests he’s going to become a major action star – in fact he’s probably miscast – but then everything about this film seems to be a little half-hearted.