Steve Carver’s follow-up to Big Bad Mama, this Roger Corman-produced effort follows the life story of Al Capone, episodically tracking his life and control over Chicago. It stars Ben Gazzara as Capone, Susan Blakely (The Concorde…Airport ’79) as his girl Iris, John Cassavetes as Frankie Yale and Sylvester Stallone as Frank Nitti.
This being a Corman film, you also get a Dick Miller appearance. It’s as welcome as always. Corman had already made one Capone movie, 1967’s The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, but this movie features more than just that one event.
Years later, Stallone would tell Ain’t It Cool News that “I particularly enjoyed working on Capone, because it was like the cheesy, mentally challenged inbred cousin of The Godfather“.
The film follows the most important dates of Capone’s life, such as a May 16, 1918 bust that left Capone scarred after being thrown through a window; September 23, 1919, when he decided to kill his boss “Diamond” Jim Colosimo; September 20, 1926 when Nitti saves him from a hit ordered by Hymie Weiss; and February 14, 1929, when the aforementioned St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wiped out the Gusenberg brothers.
There was some controversy over the nudity in this film, as Susan Blakely goes beyond full frontal here, nudity that wouldn’t appear in mainstream Hollywood movies again until Basic Instinct.
It all ends with Capone suffering from syphilis, driven so mad that he doesn’t even recognize Nitti. The hitman finally opens up about how he felt about his boss, remarking how he only cared about killing people. As he leaves, Capone continues to get crazier, ending with him dying a year later. This scene was shot at Barbra Streisand’s estate.
If you’re hoping for a historically accurate film, you may want to skip this. After all, Capone’s car didn’t come from a window, but from a knife wound inflicted by Frank Gallucio over a remark Capone made to Gallucio’s sister. And the whole last part of the movie, where Nitti visits Capone, it would have been impossible. Nitti killed himself in 1943, three years before Capone died.
You can get this on blu ray from Shout! Factory.