I submit the following list of actors whose portrayals of Al Capone, to varying extents, missed the boat. It’s important to keep in mind that their failures may be attributed to miscasting, bad scripts, low budgets, and negligent direction, rather than to any shortcomings on their part as actors.
Jason Robards in The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967).
One of our greatest actors, Robards did the best he could playing a man he did not remotely resemble, and captured the volatile Capone who clearly relished being boss.
William Forsythe in The Untouchables (1993–1994)
Excellent portraying many another criminal, but he lumbers through these performances.
Edward Arnold as Duke Morgan in Okay, America! (1932)
Arnold was able to convey “Capone’s” shrewdness and charm, but not much else.
F. Murray Abraham in Dillinger and Capone (1995).
Not too bad for a man who looks absolutely nothing like Capone.
Paul Muni in Scarface (1932).
Gets extra credit for pioneering gangster roles, but his performance is over the top.
Neville Brand in the TV series The Untouchables and The George Raft Story (1961).
Physically imposing, with a truly dangerous glint in his eye, but too gloomy and heavy-headed to be a convincing Capone.
Umberto Celisano in The Making of the Mob (2016).
Not much to go on in his brief and ill-conceived scenes, but Capone’s menacing cheeriness comes through.
Eric Roberts in The Lost Capone (1990)
Captured something of Capone’s androgynous quality but leaned on mostly generic psycho emoting.
Ray Sharkey in The Revenge of Al Capone (1989)
Capone as a needy loudmouth.
Julian Littman in Al’s Lads (2002)
Brief, half-hearted portrayal in a very odd movie.
Dom Capone III in The Capones (2013)
Fascinating that the head of the family in this “reality” series is played by one of Capone’s ostensible grandnephews, but the entire enterprise is absurd. And who, exactly, was Domenick Capone I?
William Devane in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, (1994)
Devane’s John F. Kennedy portrayal in The Missiles of October (1974) was brilliant (though more evocative of Robert than John). But why anyone would cast him as Al Capone is beyond me.
Michael Kotsohilis The Making of the Mob (2016)
A gloomy, stolid performance entirely lacking in Capone’s charisma or charm.
Al Pacino as Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice in Dick Tracy (1990).
Probably unfair to include him here, but Pacino portrayed a Capone-like mob boss as a Sunday-funnies cartoon, weighed down by tons of makeup. But it’s surprising to end a list that begins with DeNiro and ends with Pacino.