15 September 2010 | bkoganbing
The Rise And Fall Of Scarface
Although Rod Steiger gives an electrifying performance as Al Capone in the film of the same name, it could have been done a whole lot better.
Influenced by the success of The Untouchables on television the classical gangster film underwent a short revival for about five years in the late Fifties and early Sixties. It was inevitable that a film about the most notorious gangster name of all would get a biographical film.
The film concentrated on Capone's public life and the stories of gangland lore that have circulated about him. Very little is shown of his personal life, he had a wife and child and many a mistress not just the character Fay Spain portrays. Rod Steiger has been accused of overacting in his characterization, but in fairness I don't think the writers and director gave him much to work with.
With one exception no characters had name changes. The one being Martin Balsam's character who was based on reporter Jake Lingle whose connections with the underworld got him many a good story, but also compromised his integrity. Capone is shown being responsible for Balsam's death, but in real life there are many theories about Lingle's demise.
One character is grafted in from New York. There was no such a character as James Gregory's honest inspector, mainly because there were damn few honest cops in Chicago in the Twenties. His character is based on Lewis J. Valentine who did run a confidential squad in New York City and faced a lot of political pressure from Tammany Hall. Under Fiorello LaGuardia, Valentine became the city's police commissioner, probably the best one we ever had.
Still if you were a big fan of The Untouchables, you should definitely like this Al Capone movie.