Monday, June 4, 2012


‘I’m immortal, you punk! I’m Dillinger!’

For United States it was an era of 1930s and great depression but that didn’t exist for one man who proclaimed his name loud and clear every time he robbed the bank with his gang. FBI and American Press claimed him title of Public Enemy No.1. With more than two dozen bank robbery and twice escape from prison, John Herbert Dillinger was one of the most notorious and most wanted organized crime legend that America had ever seen and Hollywood keep repeating Dillinger bio-pic on screen from one or another sources. The latest was Michael Mann’s Johnny Depp- Christian Bale starrer ‘The Public Enemy’. I haven’t seen other films but Mann’s film clearly seems like misnomer affair compared to this John Milius’ striking crime biopic.

Warren Oates made indelible impression to me in one of my all-time favorite Peckinpah film ‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’ and after watching him as Dillinger here, I must say he’s one who’s irreplaceable here too from start to finish. The film is narrated by cigar in mouth clad FBI officer Melvin Purvis, played brilliantly here by Ben Johnson. Purvis was G-man backed by J. Edgar Hoover, who proved nemesis for organized crime and after lot of struggle finally ended the rule of Dillinger & Co.

What is most striking feature of the film is its uninhibited display of on your face violence ranging from the first violent and messy bank robbery or that long and mind-blowing machine gun trotting action sequence trap at dawn set by Purvis or the climax at theatre are just as shatteringly brutal and violent as watching the climax of ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ or Peckinpah classics. The camera and production design captures the feel of 1930’s America in frames like those classic noirs of 40s and 50s. The dialogues are loud but punchy, the pace is what it should be one expects from film of this genre and the music is appropriately moody. Along with capturing violence and action, the film also used B&W photographic montages to give it documenting feel. But above all this is film about Dillinger and Purvis and Oates and Johnson are men to watch, Depp and Bale seems kids to them.

Mandatory for all crime and gangster film fans.


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