Dillinger

( 2 )

Overview

John Milius's first directorial effort in its own small way set the stage in the 1970s for a subgenre of action films that depict a nostalgia for historical figures tinged with a hard-edged skepticism. Warren Oates stars as John Dillinger, whose short-lived career as Public Enemy No.1 was, at least according to Milius, promoted by Dillinger with a self-absorbed boosterism, comforting his victims by telling them, "Someday you'll tell your grandchildren about this." The film captures the highlights of Dillinger's ...
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Overview

John Milius's first directorial effort in its own small way set the stage in the 1970s for a subgenre of action films that depict a nostalgia for historical figures tinged with a hard-edged skepticism. Warren Oates stars as John Dillinger, whose short-lived career as Public Enemy No.1 was, at least according to Milius, promoted by Dillinger with a self-absorbed boosterism, comforting his victims by telling them, "Someday you'll tell your grandchildren about this." The film captures the highlights of Dillinger's criminal career, as seen through the eyes of Melvin Purvis Ben Johnson, the FBI agent whose obsession with capturing Dillinger led to Dillinger's death in the back alley of Chicago's Biograph Theater.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Of the rash of Depression-era gangster films that followed in the wake of Bonnie and Clyde, the best found something new to do with the genre. However accidental Arthur Penn's revival of the gangster film, John Milius' directorial debut seems like an intentional attempt to have the last word, portraying gangster life as violent, unpleasant, and brief. Memorably acted by Warren Oates, John Dillinger is portrayed as a sadistic, egomaniacal creep, and his antagonist, G-man Melvin Purvis (also well-acted by fellow Wild Bunch-er Ben Johnson), as an only slightly more sympathetic, vengeance-obsessed prig. The course of the film softens the images of both, but only after their lives descend into increasingly frequent bloodshed. Joining Dillinger after his career is well under way, Milius has no interest in examining what made him the man he is, only an interest in his actions and their wider social implications. Working within apparent budget restrictions, the director does a remarkable job of re-creating period details and manages some impressive shoot-outs. But it is Oates' portrayal of Dillinger's compulsive need for celebrity and unwillingness to surrender the gangster lifestyle, as well as colorful supporting turns by Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Dreyfuss, and others that make this exemplary B-movie linger in the memory.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/19/2000
  • UPC: 883904126591
  • Original Release: 1973
  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Warren Oates John Dillinger
Ben Johnson Melvin Purvis
Michelle Phillips Billie Frechette
Cloris Leachman Anna Sage
Harry Dean Stanton Homer Van Meter
Richard Dreyfuss Baby Face Nelson
Jerry Summers Tommy Carroll
Geoffrey Lewis Harry Pierpont
Robert H. Harris Ed Fulton
Terry J. Leonard Theodore "Handsome Jack" Klutas
John Martino Eddie Martin
Frank McRae Reed Youngblood
John Ryan Charles Mackley
Steve Kanaly Pretty Boy Floyd
Read Morgan Big Jim Wollard
Roy Jenson Samuel Cowley
Technical Credits
John Milius Director, Screenwriter
Samuel Z. Arkoff Producer
Jules Brenner Cinematographer
Sam Coslow Songwriter
Alexis Dubin Songwriter
Tom Ellingwood Makeup
Buzz Feitshans Producer
A.D. Flowers Special Effects
James George Costumes/Costume Designer
Harry Gillespie Songwriter
Lawrence Gordon Producer
W. Franke Harling Songwriter
Don Johnson Sound/Sound Designer
Arthur Johnston Songwriter
Max Kleven Stunts
Donald C. Klune Asst. Director
Robert A. Papazian Producer
Charles R. Pierce Set Decoration/Design
Leo Robin Songwriter
Richard Rodgers Songwriter
Barbara Siebert-Boticoff Costumes/Costume Designer
Seymour Simons Songwriter
Barry De Vorzon Score Composer
Harry Warren Songwriter
Cliff Wenger Special Effects
Richard A. Whiting Songwriter
Trevor Williams Art Director
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Tommy Guns Aplenty

    Given his penchant for mythmaking, the historical facts depicted in director/screenwriter John Milius' "Dillinger" are suspect at best, but who cares? This is a rattling good tale of gangsterism in the golden Warner Bros. tradition with the additional trappings of widescreen, color and the expulsion of the Production Code. Warren Oates, that most underrated of actors, is a dead-ringer for former Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger and this film is Milius' exciting version of his short but violent reign as America's most famous bank robber. Cannily, the film is a dual story, spending almost half of it's time following the exploits of super G-Man Melvin Purvis who relentlessly pursues Dillinger and a whole series of criminal miscreants throughout the Midwest; each episode told with wit, style and not a small level of visceral excitement. Ben Johnson is winning as the invincible, incorruptable Purvis and his cat-and-mouse tightening of the screws in eventual pursuit of Dillinger's gang is played with a calm civility that is novel in gangster films; he knows he's going to get his man but until he does, why not scold and tweak his quarry as a disciplining parent would do with a bratty child? Meanwhile, Dillinger's crime spree is depicted with relish, each robbery a mini-masterpiece of staging action. The sequences are frenetically shot and edited, not to mention violent; a whiplash counterpoint to the scenes of Dillinger's gang engaged in a fraternal comeraderie. Milius' script is packed with incident and characters but is constructed so concisely as to afford each member of the gang enough room to develop far beyond mere thumbnail portraitures. Performances in the film are sharp and appealing with Harry Dean Stanton as Homer Van Meter, Geoffrey Lewis as Harry Pierpont and Steve Kanaly as Pretty Boy Floyd faring best. Only two performers disappoint: Michelle Phillips is a colorless Billie Frechette (Dillinger's love interest) and Richard Dreyfuss mercilessly chews up the scenery as a Ritalin needy Baby Face Nelson. But it is Warren Oates as Dillinger who brings the film it's balance against the formidable Ben Johnson. Oates charms even when waving a tommy gun in the face of a bank teller, and while it would be easy to root for this gang of colorful outlaws, the intense violence depicted in their exploits combined with the authoritative presence of Purvis never lets you forget that while momentarily engaging, these are vicious killers unworthy of our sympathy. Milius' exceptionally crafted film lets you enjoy a more graphic gangster picture while allowing you the luxury of simultaneously enjoying a moral high ground. This bare-bones DVD contains a widescreen presentation with fine sound and a minutely soft picture which replicates the original theatrical experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews