Al Capone (1959)

Al Capone
Directed by Richard Wilson
Written by Malvin Wald and Henry F. Greenberg
1959/USA
Allied Artists Pictures
First viewing/Amazon Instant

 

You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone. — Al Capone

This is an OK and apparently fairly accurate bio-pic about the famous Chicago gangster.

The story follows Capone (Rod Steiger) from the time he arrives in Chicago from Brooklyn to work as a bouncer for gangster nightclub owner Johnny Torrio.  Torrio plans to make it big when Prohibition goes into affect with the assistance of his mentor, city political boss Big Jim Colosimo.  Colosimo and Capone share a taste for opera.  But when it comes time to turn booze running into big business, Capone sees that Colosimo no longer has a veto.  Torrio takes out “insurance” by making Capone his partner in running vice in the city’s South Side.

Capone also pursues and eventually wins the only woman he cannot buy.  She is the angry widow of a man she suspects Capone had murdered at the time of Colosimo’s killing.  The story is narrated by James Schaefler (James Gregory), the police officer who for many long years tries to defeat Capone and the Chicago mob.  With Martin Balsam as a corrupt newspaper reporter on Capone’s payroll.

This is quite a watchable film.  Steiger gives a powerful performance, mostly avoiding the hamminess that sometimes plagues his work.

Trailer

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