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‘Capone’: What’s true, what’s not in Tom Hardy’s new gangster movie

By | Rachel Brooks

Staff | Telegraph Local 

See | The New African Living Standard

Above, from Business Insider‘s “Life and death of Al Capone.”

Tom Hardy stars in “Capone” a gangster movie dramatizing the life of infamous Mafiosi-lead man Al Capone. The role of Al Capone has previously been portrayed by Robert DeNiro in 1987’s “The Untouchables.” Director Josh Trank’s telling in “Capone” will take a different direction, choosing to shift the limelight off of Capone the crime boss and onto Capone in his last days. A version of the former gang lord dying of syphilis in 1947 at the age of 48. 

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USA Today weighed in on Tuesday regarding what is fact and what is fiction in the new film. This distinction must be made as Trank has openly stated he took creative liberty with the story of Capone. He wanted to give an impressionistic take on a man who is an icon of 20th century urban folklore and not just of the man as he was. USA interviewed the author of “Get Capone: The Secret Plot That Captured America’s Most Wanted Gangster,” Jonathan Eig. Eig has referred to Capone as a “mythological” figure. 

“That’s part of why Capone has become this mythological figure for our times. Because of the liberties taken in telling all these stories,” said Eig as quoted by USA Today. 

Fact: Al Capone lived his last days out in Florida 

Al Capone did, in fact, live out the remainder of his days in a home bought in Palm Island, Florida. USA Today shared a photo from the Associated Press that shows Al Capone, clad in striped robe, ever-present cigar mise en scene, fishing off a dock in Palm Island, Florida. He lived and died there after he served eight years of an eleven year sentence for tax evasion. 

Fact: Al Capone suffered from syphilis

Al Capone kept his disease close to the vest until he was officially diagnosed by prison doctors. He suffered from neurosyphilis. In “Capone,” the director states that the costuming for Tom Hardy’s interpretation of Capone added the resulting scarring from neurosyphilis as best as it could. 

Fiction: Hallucinations of guilt

Trank took liberties with the story in Capone. The gangster’s actual personality was not well-known as he is shrouded by so much myth and mystery. His guards stated that he often behaved like a child, so the hallucinations of a guilty conscience portrayed in this film are largely from Trank’s imagination. 

The facts behind the fortune

Vanity Fair also reports that “Capone’s” missing fortune is believed to have been real, but the exact amount is unknown. Capone had created a bootlegger’s enterprise by his late 20s that was worth $1billion or more per year in today’s currency. The crime boss lived lavishly off of his ill-gotten gain, which was mostly traded in mountains of cash. Yet, he never would invest it directly to avoid the Federal government seizing it. 

Vanity Fair cites Al Capone’s great nice Diedre Capone as the source for proof that, while in prison for tax evasion, Capone went to great lengths to hide “hundreds of millions of dollars.” He was sentenced to 11 years. He went into prison in 1931. Diedre Capone wrote the book Uncle Al Capone that was published in 2011. 

In an interview with her grandfather, Mrs. Capone, now 80, states that Al Capone dispersed his massive fortune through lockboxes in the U.S. and Cuba. He no longer trusted colleagues or family to keep money safe. He would not invest the money and he would not invest it in the stock market. His mind was addled with syphilis and with mercury injections he received while imprisoned in Alcatraz. Diedre Capone theorizes that Al Capone had only expected to be in Alcatraz for three years such as his brother Ralph Capone, Diedre’s grandfather and the source of the story, had gotten. Al Capone went away for 11 years and by the time he was done his memory was completely consumed by the disease that had seized him. 

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Mrs. Capone remembers Al Capone not as the mob monster that she perceives the “wonderfully talented actor” Tom Hardy is portraying, but as the man who taught her to ride a bike. 

“He taught me how to swim. He taught me how to ride a bike. He taught me how to cook spaghetti. My mantra is: Was Al Capone a mobster? Yes he was. Was Al Capone a monster? No he wasn’t,” said Diedre Capone, as quoted by Vanity Fair. 

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