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Al Capone (1959)

 -  Biography | Crime | Drama  -  25 March 1959 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 938 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 8 critic

This factual biography of gang lord Al Capone follows his rise and fall in Chicago gangdom during the Prohibition era.

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Title: Al Capone (1959)

Al Capone (1959) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
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Maureen Flannery
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Schaefler (narrator)
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Mac Keeley, reporter
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Murvyn Vye ...
Robert Gist ...
Lewis Charles ...
Joe De Santis ...
Sandy Kenyon ...
Bones Corelli
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Lawyer Brancato
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Tony Genaro
Louis Quinn ...
Joe Lorenzo
Ron Soble ...
John Scalisi
Steve Gravers ...
Albert Anselmi
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Storyline

In this unusually accurate biography, small-time hood Al Capone comes to Chicago at the dawn of Prohibition to be the bodyguard of racketeer Johnny Torrio. Capone's rise in Chicago gangdom is followed through murder, extortion, and political fraud. He becomes head of Chicago's biggest "business," but moves inexorably toward his downfall and ignominious end. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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True! authentic! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

25 March 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Al Capone  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Trivia

Martin Balsam's character, Mac Keeley, was based on a real-life Chicago Tribune reporter named Jake Lingle. Lingle, a "legman" who ran down gang-related stories for the paper, had close ties to Al Capone and other gangsters as well as the notoriously corrupt Chicago Police Department, and he was well-paid by both mobsters and a police commissioner as a "go-between." Lingle was gunned down on June 9, 1930, much as depicted in the movie, after "getting too big for his hat", as Capone put it, and demanding too much for his services (though a Capone rival likely paid for the hit). Apparently legal concerns prevented the producers of this film from using Lingle's name. However, just a few months after this film was released, the TV series The Untouchables (1959) told Lingle's story in its third episode and used his actual name. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Las travesuras de Morucha (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

An eerily compelling Capone . . .
22 October 2003 | by (san francisco) – See all my reviews

Many actors have portrayed Capone over the years. It's virtually a "cottage industry," guaranteeing that yet another Capone flick will hit the screens before the collective audience has quite recovered from its yawn at the last one. And yet, for me, no one has ever come quite so close to nailing the role as Rod Steiger in this 1959 black-and-white low-budget effort.

As a matter of fact, using the term "low-budget" does this film a disservice, calling to mind as it does the run-of-the-mill output of producer/distributor Allied Artists (usually on the scale of "Attack Of The 50-Foot Mummified Woman Meets Godzilla's Teenage Werewolf Son"). For this film, however, the studio assembled a strong acting ensemble which includes Martin Balsam, Nehemiah Persoff, Murvyn Vye, and James Gregory, all of whom deliver standout performances.

Yet it's Steiger whose performance holds this film together. His Capone is a monster whose mood swings defy the term "mercurial," yet his psychopathy seems somehow strangely -- disturbingly -- human. You can sense the demons deep within him, and how they drive him, but you're never allowed to glimpse them, not even momentarily, lest you lose sight of the fact that this man truly is a monster. Eerily compelling, even hypnotic (particularly as he woos -- and wins! -- the widow of a cop he's previously murdered), Steiger invests his characterization with the bravura of the opera which the real-life Capone professed to admire. Alternately wheedling and bullying, bellicose and scheming, he assumes a larger-than-life mythos which resonates all the more uncomfortably due to a sense of plausibility, the feeling that such men do continue to exist among us.

The storyline itself is more or less factual, save for Gregory's character (which isn't even really a composite of any particular real-life law enforcement personnel), as well as a decision to re-name Balsam's character rather than use the identity of the real-life Jake Lingle, upon whom the character is based. Certain incidents have been fictionalized as to the way they happened, but that's to be expected in the interest of dramatic effect.

Overall, the film achieves an almost documentary effect. Steiger's performance makes it a very chilling documentary, indeed.


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