Monday, February 14, 2011

Sometimes It's Just Hopeless...

I watched most of 1975's "Capone" the other night, a baffling case of fascinating material coupled with a pretty incredible cast producing... a thoroughly uninteresting movie. The great Ben Gazzara plays Al Capone with a gruff bluster that never suggests the charisma a guy like the real Capone must have had to hold together a massive criminal operation. John Cassavetes, Susan Blakeley, John Campanella and even a very young, pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone are given little to work with. The result? Repetitive scenes of Capone yelling about some competitor, goons going to work with dynamite and machine guns, then more yelling, shooting, stabbing, etc.

Even more curious is the total contempt shown to any version of Capone's actual history. I mean, the guy was a murderous mob Kingpin. The real story of his rise and syphilitic fall aren't interesting enough? Unfortunately, the fictionalized version, despite an amazing cast, is even LESS interesting than his real life.

Also, watching this is a reminder just how ground-breaking Gordon Willis' moody photography was in "The Godfather." "Capone" is all brightly lit, gaudy color, where the blood is candy apple red and Capone plays one scene in a bathrobe that would have been gaudy in a Cirque Du Soleil show. Pixar movies look positively drab compared to this.

This one gets one and half Bronsons... the extra half because I like movies where the young Stallone gets to streak his hair with a little gray to play "older." ("F.I.S.T." rates four Bronson's on the white-stuff in young-Stallone's hair rating system!)