Wednesday, July 01, 2009

"My name is John Dillinger, and I rob banks."

Before Michael Mann's PUBLIC ENEMIES, John Millius made this great version of the John Dillinger vs. Melvin Purvis story that focused on the struggle between two powerful men. Millius was great at that - his WIND AND THE LION is one of my favorite films, and takes two larger than life men and pits them against each other. Here we get Dillinger working his press, and Purvis and the FBI trying to counter-act with their own press releases to the newspapers. And we get a great look at Depression Era America, where the real enemy was poverty and unemployment... and a guy like Dillinger could become famous for robbing the banks that foreclosed on farmers. Dillinger became a folk hero by *not* taking people's money, only the bank's.

I've used clips from the Millius film in my 2 day class - it has some great writing. The supporting characters are all really well drawn, even if they only spend a small amount of time on screen. One of the interesting things with Millius films is that his heroes and villains respect each other, even though they are coming from different sides. So instead of cardboard villains, you get fully formed characters who are not all bad. In RED DAWN the Cuban military leader allows Patrick Swayze to carry off his wounded brother - even though they are enemies. Millius villians respect the heroes... and vice versa.

And the great thing about DILLINGER is Warren Oates. This may be his finest role. Oates was a character actor of great charisma who stole many a scene from the movie's star. You might actually see a bad movie because he was in it - knowing he'd give a great performance. He's one of the reasons I saw Spielberg's flop 1941. Here he doesn't have to steal the film from the lead, because *he's* the star.

Dillinger (1973)

John Sayles wrote a John Dillinger movie for Roger Corman starring, um, Robert Conrad as Dillinger. Sayles took the story from the Lady In Red's POV, played by the always hot Pamela Sue Martin and showed Depression Era America's effect on women. But still, there were shoot outs and car wrecks and nekkid girls...

Hey, and here's the trailer for the 1945 movie starring Lawrence Tierney (from RESERVOIR DOGS):

Which brings us to Michael Mann's movie, which opens today. How will it compare?

Classes On CD - Recession Sale!

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Who's driving? (the story) and JUMPER.
Yesterday’s Dinner: Tuna melt at Johnny Rockets.
Bicycle: Short bike ride on Sunday to see a play in NoHo.


striker90210 said...

I have been waiting for the release of this movie. I love the genre and Michael Mann's work.

I am not sure how well an R-rated adult oriented crime drama movie will do during the pop corn season. We will see.

Anonymous said...

last week I saw Melvis Purvis: G-Man with Dale Robertson playing him as Rhett Butler...

ObiDonWan said...

Bill, Great "fix" on the KONG plot. That alone should get you at least a rewrite job on another blockbuster.

The Melvin Purvis: G-Man movie disturbed me so much I didn't enjoy it.

The only character I enjoy seeing Depp do is Jack Sparrow.

eXTReMe Tracker