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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I kind of liked it. It's played straight (I think) but it's really
pretty amusing. You've seen it all before -- the chattering Tommy guns,
the blood all over, the cigars, the sex, the flowers at the funeral,
"My own Bruddah," the oaths of loyalty, the betrayals, the shotguns,
the scratchy opera records, the Model A Fords twirling around on wet
streets, the booze, the speakeasies, the flapper molls, the guy
starting the car which is deconstructed by the hidden explosives,
Deanie O'Banion, Bugs Moran, Hymie Weiss, Jake Gadjusek, the Genna
brothers, the knives, Chicago neighborhoods that look like the
Universal Tour, the fist fights -- and Al Capone.
I thought Rod Steiger had closed the book on turning Capone into an outrageous clown in "Al Capone," but Ben Gazzara outdoes him here. This was released shortly after "The Godfather". You can tell because Gazzara, not satisfied with a little cotton in his cheeks like Brando, seems to have stuffed a couple of Kaiser rolls or ABD pads in his cheeks. They stand out like a chipmunk's. And when he has a fat cigar in his mouth his voice sounds as if it's coming from a place far distant, echoing off twisting walls, a kind of TUBA of a voice. His physical instrument is overplayed as well. When he's happy his smile is that of an alligator. Giving orders he lowers his head like a bull and glares up from beneath his brows. He croaks when he tries to soothe someone and otherwise bellows.
The vulgarity is engaging. "Them f******s have been shoving their ****s up my *** for too ******** long now, those *****ing *****s! ****** the ***** *****s of the ***** ** *****, *** ******ing ****ers!"
And then there is Susan Blakely. She was Al Pacino's second and closest girl friend in "Serpico." She didn't have much of a part. She has a small part here too but it's all on display. All of her parts are on display. You get to know Susan Blakely pretty well, let's say, including her obstetrical aspect, which I think adds to the general comedic impact of this epic narrative.
But the movie isn't sexy, any more than it's tragic or dramatic. We don't care whose head explodes. We don't care who gets shot, shived, or syphilitic.
What an unexcelled piece of trash. I really enjoyed it.
Psychopath? In his last years due to syphilis maybe, but even the movie's
final scene showing him in Florida surrounded by gangster friends
including Frank Nitti, who had died some years earlier) rather than his
family was absurd. Why did the film ignore his wife, son, siblings, and
brother Ralph, who was the most important brother in the organization? And
what's with that broad Iris, with him through out the movie? Pure fiction.
Even the killing of Jim Colosimo at his restaurant was baloney. Frankie Yale did it, though the lone witness recanted. One writer claims Capone hadn't yet arrived in Chicago at that time. Johnny Torrio knew Capone from New York, saw potential, and brought him west, so even the movie's opening scene of Capone's alley fight as a means of meeting Torrio was nonsense. Further,it was the George "Bugs" Malone gang that attacked Torrio in front of his apartment building, not a Capone plan... and you can bet the Torrio's didn't have a sign in front of their house displaying their true name! I could go on and on here about substituting fancy for fact, events omitted, but space is limited. Capone's social skills were far above average amonghis peers and the public. He always bargained first, not shot first, and had great loyalty to his men and kept his end of agreements. Visit a bookstore to get the true story instead of believing this absolutely ridiculous flick. BTW, Capone never exposed himself on the golf course or anywhere else, as far as is known.
Very few people remember this film (why is beyond me, it is one of the
better acted gangster films--Even Sly Stallone does a decent job). But to
the few of us that really remember this, it is because of a relatively
unknown actress called Susan Blakely.
This is the first time from a major motion picture studio that an actress spread her legs (while completely nude, by the way) and showed us her very blond "Delta of Venus"--absolute motion picture history that, unfortunately should have catapulted her to the Sharon Stone level, but didn't.
I had to order from Great Britain and convert it from PAL to NTSC, but it was worth it!
Thanks forever, Susan!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The movie is a largely fictional account of the life of Al Capone. When it was released, the critics bashed it, saying it was far too violent. It's a mobster film for crying out loud! It's gonna be violent! But enough complaining. There will always be some people who we'll never know exactly what they look like. Al Capone was one of those people. Ben Gazzara takes one look at the challenge and chucks it out the window. He is Capone, no question. Nobody else comes close. Not even Robert De Niro. This guy walks the walk and talks the talk, even if he has stuffed his cheeks with cotton wool. Susan Blakely is effective as the fiery Iris Crawford. She changes from a toilet-mouthed, cigarette-smoking, booze-swilling bitch to an 'innocent' dumb blonde gangster's moll halfway through, even if she does have trouble keeping her clothes on after her 'transformation'. Sylvester Stallone's Frank Nitti is just the kind of SOB you'd like to kick in the balls. Seriously. He's a traitor. His last words are "The guy you really gotta watch out for ain't across the street at all. He's the bum standing on the same ladder you are, right behind you." This has been his ethos all the way through the film. Harry Guardino's Johnny Torrio is perfect in every way but one. He's too tall. But asides from that, he's the best screen Torrio I've seen. (Actually, he's the only one I've seen) Overall, this film is exellent, but suffers from the stigma of having Roger Corman on the production crew. It's an amazing film, and anyone who is interested in the 1920s mobster era should watch it. 9/10
If you were looking for an Al Capone biography that was more exciting than
the 1959 film with Rod Steiger, you might like this one, but the only
exciting thing for me were the gun battles. Ben Gazzara does well in the
title role, but you can tell he has cotton in his jowls because some of his
dialogue is incomprehensible. The casting was ideal, having
Italian-American actors playing a gang of Italian-American mobsters
(especially Sylvester Stallone as Frank Nitti). There is one point the film
gets wrong. At the end of the movie, Nitti travels to Florida in 1946 to
visit Capone, who is dying of syphilis. In real life, Nitti committed
suicide in 1943, before Capone died.
Recommended only for a boring day.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ahh the 1970s
The home of the weird and unprofessional bad movies!
At first I said to myself; this is a movie where its problem is being poor. After a while, I said to myself; this is a movie where its problem is its lead actor. Then, I noted that the director wasn't handling the matters well, or wasn't handling the matters. Maybe at one later point I accused the script too, but eventually I found out that it wasn't about many problems. It was about this movie being wholly a big problem!
After the success of (The Godfather 1972), then (The Godfather: Part II 1974) there was suddenly an intensive concern about the history of mafia with the life of the American mobsters in the 20th century's first half, their families, mistresses, enemies and their ruling Tommyguns, where a wave of followers was made yet with nothing like Godfather. Just recall (The Don Is Dead 1973), (Dillinger 1973), or TV ones like (Honor Thy Father 1973), (The Virginia Hill Story 1974). Now, here's (Capone 1975); the movie that will give you a good reason to hate The Godfather and its success!
It looks like the 70s's exploitation movies, but it isn't. It's worse. The production is totally nonexistent. For instance the sets were like something I saw tenth of times at that era's TV shows; the ones that take place in the 70s's days (I suspect that I saw the bar, of the start of the movie, in one of Starsky & Hutch's episodes before!). The shots of the assassins in their cars, from the scene in which Capone was getting shot in the daylight, were clearly being borrowed from another movie due to shameful difference between the visual taste of them and the ones of this movie! Thanks to the IMDb, I knew that these shots were edited from another movie (The St. Valentine's Day Massacre 1967) which's by the way directed by Capone's producer Roger Corman (or should I say Capone's stingy producer ?!). Moreover, I'm sure that some suits, coats, cars, and perhaps machineguns were reused from The Godfather's stuff.
There is no direction at all. And, I mean AT ALL. Unless you think that ending every scene by immersing it into red color is directing. But even if, this (Steve Carver) didn't do anything more. At one moment there is an officer in his office threatening Capone "you are going to jail", and Capone tells him that he won't since he bribed them all, look at the way this scene was made as simply no effort of any kind was done; it was the perfect way how not to do it. And I HATED Mr. Carver's endless close-ups like he didn't learn anything about shooting but that!
The script is mechanic, like a version of The Godfather but after cutting everything except the assassinations scenes. So don't ask too much, or ever. Nevertheless the question that I can't hold till now is why Capone's right-hand man, played by Stallone, sold him out at last ?? I bet the movie makers themselves don't know or remember anything about it in the first place! "He didn't know that the man to be worry about is the one who's beside you, not in front of you" isn't enough motive or convincing reason. And what was the need for this imaginary girlfriend ???! I suppose she was there just to assure that Capone wasn't gay, then be killed later! Generally it is at best a tasteless docu-drama about Capone, written by someone maybe read 2 pages summary about the man, then turned them, as they were, into a film!
Still the main painful thing is Ben Gazzara's performance. It should be taught in acting schools (and ironically I'm not kidding!). This is beyond awful. Even if an actor wanted to be deliberately bad, he wouldn't be as half bad as this. (Gazzara) seemed like a nervous 9-year-old child trying to improvise Capone so seriously, being truly laughable for most of the time and horrible to embarrassing extent for the rest. Just watch him saying "Poison? What kind of way to kill a man is that ?!".. Purely unforgettable whether you want to laugh your heart out, or watch a man contorting his face to the max! But I can't blame the guy alone, surely he was entirely clueless; since he was in the hands of writing and directing that didn't give a damn, or didn't give anything but a damn!
Oh God, I can't forget the finale; it's the top of this movie's creepy crappy time. So with this shitty TV-ish condition, I don't know how they got the nerve to show this cinematically ?? (Maybe because of the female nudity of it !). What kind of movie where the best of it is the performance of the young (Stallone) anyway ?! But Hey. Whatever. Watch it as a spoof of Al Capone; it works finely this way.. But unfortunately not for all its time!
Finally a question : if Capone was still alive, healthy and influential when that was released.. Do you think that he might have whacked this movie's crow?!
Cheaply-made and over-simplified account of the life and times of the
most notorious gangland figure of The Roaring Twenties; clearly
intended as exploitation - with liberal doses of nudity and foul
language to embellish the typical blood-soaked exploits - the Fox film
was produced by Roger Corman (who was associated with any number of
similar genre efforts, released in the wake of BONNIE AND CLYDE 
and which became an even greater commodity after THE GODFATHER ).
As Capone, Ben Gazzara chews more than the scenery - as he obviously has placed something in his mouth to help 'authenticate' his delivery! Similarly, so as to give the impression of realism, the script continuously precedes scenes with the date and year when the event depicted is supposed to have happened; still, this doesn't prevent the film from appearing clichéd most of the time! Curiously, the film ends with Capone on parole going mad in some luxurious mansion - a turn of events which, as far as I know, is completely fabricated.
With the various real-life characters and myriad factions on display, one is prone to lose track of who's killing who and why - but, for all that, the carnage is constant and moderately well-staged (though, at one point, Corman inserts footage from his own film THE ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE , also a Fox production!). The cast is made up of veterans like Gazzara, Harry Guardino and a cameo by John Cassavetes, and newcomers such as Sylvester Stallone (a pretty good pre-stardom role as Capone's right-hand man who eventually has his boss ousted!), regular baddie Martin Kove (as a thug from a rival clan) and lovely Susan Blakely as Capone's young but free-spirited moll.
Needless to say, the film doesn't do justice to the character (seen in countless other gangster pics, the most significant impressions perhaps being those given, Method-style, by Rod Steiger in AL CAPONE  and Robert De Niro in THE UNTOUCHABLES ) - but neither is it the disaster Leonard Maltin claims, having slapped a BOMB rating to it! By the way, while the print on Fox's R2 DVD is O.K., the audio is pretty lousy (often displaying a distracting hiss).
"Capone" is an excellent gangster movie! Ben Gazzara plays the best Al Capone I have ever seen! Actors such as Robert De Niro, Rod Steiger, Jason Robards and even Eric Roberts (hee hee) have played Al Capone but none of them can come near the accuracy and brilliance of Ben Gazzara's Al Capone. This movie was bashed by most critics, who said that this was an "exploited" version of the Capone story and that it was too violent and too brutal. Well, wasn't Al Capone himself a violent and brutal man? He was far from being a "saint" I guarantee that. The cast is fantastic; Sylvester Stallone (in one of his first roles); John Cassavettes who is always terrific; and Harry Guardino - a name you may not recognize but whose face you've seen in many movies. So how can you go wrong? You can't! "Capone" wasn't a made-for-tv movie that omits violence and profanity...something a true mob movie MUST have. It was a movie that was released in theatres. It had a poster (I have the original one sheet) and a MPAA rating of "R - Restricted." It has a reasonable length (101 mins.) and a wonderful story that could be told by great actors in a realistic way - without having to worry about the rules of television. It is also the only Al Capone movie to explicitly show Capone himself going insane because of Syphilis. Unfortunately, this marvelous movie is out of print and hard to find so see it if you can. You'll never see a better Capone movie....I guarantee it
Never one to be concerned with realism, historical accuracy or taste,
Roger Corman took on the now legendary story of gangster Al Capone.
Corman is on production duties here, but the film has his trademarks
all over it. Capone (played by Ben Gazzara, a little more convincingly
than Jason Robards in the enjoyable The St. Valentine's Day Massacre)
is jailed and questioned after beating up two policemen, to be bailed
out by Frankie Yale (John Cassavetes) and Johnny Torio (Harry Guardino)
who hold a growing influence over the police department. Capone is then
taken under Torio's wing, as they try to distribute alcohol in
Prohibition-era Chicago, while trying to calm the ongoing gang wars
that are getting increasingly bloody.
As stated earlier, don't expect The Godfather. This is a gangsters tale, exploitation style. The film seems to want to tell Capone's story without getting bogged down in the details, and instead going for maximum entertainment value. And it does work to a certain degree - Ben Gazzara's ludicrously over-the-top performance is a lot of fun, and the fact that he's a genuinely very good actor adds a bit of class to the role. But I feel Corman's earlier gangster effort, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (which he directed) was a lot more fun. That had a lot more going on to hold the attention, while the episodic nature of this film does get a bit repetitive after a while. Also, the majority of this film is not just a mere spin on the truth, it's outright lies. However, it's worth watching for Gazzara alone, and an early performance from Sylvester Stallone as Frank Nitti.
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