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Al Capone (1959)

1919, Chicago. A young scar-faced hoodlum joins one of the underworld gangs terrorising the city. Surrounded by corruption and murder, only the most ruthless will survive and rise to the top. This is the story of the man who became a legend.

Rod Steiger is ideally cast as the ruthless gangster chieftain in this better-than-average biography.

He had played a gangster masquerading as a lawyer in On the Waterfront (1954) and a gangster masquerading as a Hollywood mogul in The Big Knife (1955).

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Steiger, of course, brings all his Method mannerisms to play – he’s petulant, coarse, with a touch of Iago and Richard III, and it’s fascinating to compare his portrayal with later ones by Jason Robards in The St Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) and Robert De Niro in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987).

Steiger’s excellent energetic performance is enhanced by fine support from Spain and Balsam.

The documentary account follows Capone’s Prohibition days in Chicago up to his imprisonment for income tax evasion rather than slaughter on the streets of Chicago.

Directed by Richard Wilson, a former associate of Orson Welles, the picture revived interest in Capone, led to the TV series of The Untouchables and stands comparison with the best gangster pictures of the 1930s.

Al Capone
Rod Steiger
Maureen Flannery
Fay Spain
Keely
Martin Balsam
Tom Schaeffer
James Gregory
Bugs Moran
Murvyn Vye
Johnny Torrio
Nehemiah Persoff
Big Jim Colosimo
Joe De Santis
Hymie Weiss
Lewis Charles
O’Banion
Robert Gist

Director
Richard Wilson