John Dillinger’s violent life of crime made headline news in the ’30s, as he robbed banks across the Midwest. A folk hero of sorts, Dillinger was caught in a whirl of machine guns, fast cars, and beautiful women. Then it all came to a bloody end in 1934…
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what’s now showing
Oates and Johnson reteam after The Wild Bunch, and are joined by other excellent character actors; Oates as a wild-eyed romantic, Johnson as a blue-eyed Company Man, both with aspirations to fame (as in Badlands). There are flashes of greatness here (the table abandoned by Dillinger and his moll when he is spotted by his nemesis), but it's sad that Oates all but disappears frkm the film long before his actual demise.
Coppola called it masterpiece and I guessed he was being generous but I have to agree. Milius applies his brand of anarchism to the gangster myth and transforms it into all out war with Purvis depicted like a killer in slasher movie claiming victim after a victim and seemingly pulling the narrative away from Dillinger. In the opening Dillinger talks into the camera by the end he is reduced to a cardboard cutout.
In the beginning, the makers were quite good in portraying the suffering in Depression Era vs. the bureaucrats that actually care more about public performance rather than protecting the law. But then, it's telling the story rather than the characters; filled with montages and narration. For example, there's an awkward jump between Dillinger violently treating Billie Frechett and when she suddenly fawned over him.
In the same style spectrum as Bonnie and Clyde, Dillinger has an immense amount of energy with the sum of greatness forming from separate small moments here and there. Looking at purely from a visual and artistic standpoint, instead of how accurate its portrayal of its subject is, this is definitely among the most entertaining gangster films out there.
The movie is throughout, always entertaining, full of gunfights & violences; which I like. What I don't like and what really disturbes me, is the 'black comedy' element in it, which, for me, drags the movie down makes it ridiculous. On top of that it is too close, similar to Bonnie & Clyde. Warren Oates & Ben Johnson doing great.
A modern western with energy and poetry to spare. Milius's concern for the impact of violence is always on display; death never fails to register. Beautiful performance by Ben Johnson, see: the scene w/ the young boy at the shoeshine stand. A film full of small resonant moments...Leroy drinking from a flask after dropping his girl off at her front door. Perhaps the best onscreen use of natural wind since Griffith!
Rather impressive how Milius uses a montage of old newsreel footage, old public domain movie footage and still shots of his own actors to suggest parts of Dillinger's rampage. Despite the script's faults, he is a rather impressive director/screenwriter.