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In 1919, Brooklyn-born gangster Al Capone arrives in Chicago to become a bodyguard for Johnny Torrio, a mobster whose "emporium" offers "booze, gambling and broads" to anyone willing to pay for them. Capone soon meets "Big Jim" Colosimo, who controls the First Ward and promises to introduce the young tough to famous Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso. After Prohibition is enacted in 1920, Capone devises ways to capitalize on the public's thirst for liquor, and helps to make Colosimo and Torrio rich and powerful. Nevertheless, gang leaders Dion "Dini" O'Banion, George "Bugs" Moran and Earl Weiss, known as "Hymie the Pole," complain that Colosimo is too old and soft, and O'Banion mocks the gangster's Italian accent and mannerisms. Secretly, Capone advises Torrio to get rid of Colosimo, but after the old man and his guards are shot, Torrio's guilt at betraying a member of his family gets the better of him, and he begins to drink heavily. Capone romances Maureen Flannery, the widow of one of Colosimo's murdered men, and although she at first rejects him, she eventually succumbs to his advances. In the meantime, Capone "kills like a crazy man," eliminating any underworld leaders who resist his plan to run the crime syndicate "like a business." When Chicago elects a reform mayor, one who accepts no bribes from Capone, the gangster moves his beer-brewing and other illegal operations to the nearby town of Cicero, and the money continues to roll in. Torrio is arrested for brewing beer, and Capone, believing O'Banion had him framed, kills the Irishman. Weiss and Moran then shoot Torrio. While in the hospital, Torrio, weary of the endless killing, agrees to serve a short prison sentence and afterward enters into a quiet retirement. Meanwhile, Capone has Weiss killed, while Schaefer, a police sergeant who for years bemoaned Capone's ownership of city hall, becomes captain of the force. Mac Keely, a dishonest reporter who works for Capone, attempts to bribe Schaefer, but the latter throws him out. Because Schaefer is unable to secure a single conviction against the criminals, however, a crooked mayor again assumes power, and Capone sets up shop in the center of Chicago's financial district. Capone now forces payments from every business owner in the South Side, terrorizing anyone who refuses to pay for his "protection." Worried about attempts by "the feds" to indict Capone, Keely suggests that the gangster leave town for a few months, and Capone settles into a comfortable home in Dade County, Florida. From there he orchestrates the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, in which many of Moran's men are killed. Although the crime rocks the nation, the police, as usual, are unable to unearth any evidence that implicates Capone. Moran and Capone finally negotiate a truce, but Keely learns that Moran intends to kill Capone, and the latter takes refuge in a Philadelphia jail for a year. Just before Capone's release, Moran persuades Keely to betray his old employer, and when Capone learns that the reporter now works for his enemy, he has Keely killed. The newspaperman's death sends Chicago into an uproar, and Schaefer publicly accuses Capone of having ordered the murders of many people, including Maureen's husband. Capone finally admits his guilt to Maureen, who hysterically begs him to kill her. Schaefer secures Capone's account books, and the evidence he finds in them leads to Capone's conviction on tax evasion charges and an eleven-year sentence at Alcatraz. While he is incarcerated, a mob of prisoners attack him mercilessly.