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.
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.
Big Jim Colosimo
Joe De Santis