Tagged: John Dillinger

Warren Oates’ Brown Striped Suit as Dillinger

Warren Oates as John Dillinger in Dillinger (1973)

Warren Oates as John Dillinger in Dillinger (1973)

Vitals

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber

Indiana, Fall 1933

Film: Dillinger
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George

Background

Eighty four years ago tonight – November 15, 1933. Four police cars converge on a small office building on Irving Park Boulevard in the Chicago Loop. In an upstairs doctor’s office, one of the most wanted men in the tri-state area is being treated for either a ringworm infection or “barber’s itch,” an inflammation of hair follicles, depending on which account you read. On the floor below, a cagey informant named Art McGinnis is signaling desperately to police that their quarry is upstairs. Fate, however, is on the side of the outlaw, a thirty-year-old bank robber named John Dillinger. Continue reading

Dillinger’s Navy Striped Suit in Public Enemies

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009)

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009)

Vitals

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, maverick Depression-era bank robber

Chicago, Spring 1934

Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

It’s been quite some time since I’ve visited Public Enemies, the Michael Mann-directed action thriller depicting the life and crimes of Depression-era desperado John Dillinger. The film received mixed to positive reviews upon its release with much of the praise going to Michael Mann’s usual attention to detail as well as Johnny Depp’s performance as the Indiana-born outlaw.

Colleen Atwood’s period costumes are also worthy of attention and praise. High fashion was the signifier of success for Depression-era gangsters, and Dillinger rarely led his gun-toting cronies into a bank without being dressed to the nines.

Even when on the run, such as this scene set not long after Dillinger’s narrow escape from an FBI ambush at the Little Bohemia lodge in Wisconsin, John Dillinger made a consistent effort to dress well. (The film plays with historical accuracy to present its own narrative, pushing Billie Frechette’s arrest to after the Little Bohemia raid; in real life, Billie was arrested on April 9, 1934, two weeks before Melvin Purvis’ federal agents attempted to trap the Dillinger gang at Little Bohemia.) Continue reading

The Death of John Dillinger – 2009 Style

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009).

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009).

Vitals

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, doomed Depression-era bank robber

Chicago, July 1934

Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood

Background

While 1973’s Dillinger took a “just the facts” approach to retelling the life of bank robber John Dillinger (albeit with very exaggerated facts), Michael Mann’s Public Enemies painted the farmboy-turned-criminal as a more mythical figure. This seems to be the trend in recent years.

Forty-some years ago, the cinematic John Dillinger and Clyde Barrow were depicted as Robin Hood-type folk heroes who were cornered by relentless authorities and shot without warning. Continue reading

The Death of John Dillinger – 1973 Style

Warren Oates and Michelle Phillips as John Dillinger and Billie Frechette, respectively, in Dillinger (1973). The film inaccurately portrays Polly Hamilton as an alias for Billie Frechette; in reality, Polly was an entirely different person.

Warren Oates and Michelle Phillips as John Dillinger and Billie Frechette, respectively, in Dillinger (1973). The film inaccurately portrays Polly Hamilton as an alias for Billie Frechette; in reality, Polly was an entirely different person.

Vitals

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, doomed Depression-era bank robber

Chicago, July 1934

Film: Dillinger
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George

Background

Although it had been founded in 1908, the FBI had existed for more than a quarter of a century without grabbing major national attention. There were many major successes, but the recent crime wave of bank-robbing desperadoes tarnished the agency’s image and, in turn, turned outlaws into folk heroes.

One of these “folk heroes” was John Dillinger, a 31-year-old Indiana native who had recently embarrassed national law enforcement by reportedly breaking out of jail with a wooden gun. Although they had Dillinger in their sights for the better part of a year, the FBI – then known as the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) – had no legal jurisdiction to take him down. Dillinger’s crimes – ranging from bank robbery to alleged murder – were all certainly major, but none violated any federal law. Then, it was realized that Dillinger had stolen the Lake County sheriff’s car during his escape. By driving the stolen automobile across a state line, Dillinger violated the Dyer Act.

The Dyer Act, also called the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act, was passed in 1919 to combat the growing threat of trafficking stolen automobiles. If a person was found guilty of violating the Dyer Act, they would be sentenced with imprisonment up to ten years, a hefty fine, or both. In Dillinger’s case, the BOI determined that his punishment would be execution. Continue reading

Truth vs. Fiction: The Bank-Robbing Style of Warren Oates as Dillinger

A very Dillinger-esque Warren Oates as John Dillinger, leaving a South Bend bank job in 1973's Dillinger.

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, leaving a South Bend bank job in 1973’s Dillinger.

Vitals

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber and “super gang” leader

Indiana, Fall 1933

Film: Dillinger
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George

Background

Eighty years ago today in East Chicago, Indiana, 43-year-old ECPD patrolman William Patrick O’Malley responded to a call concerning the robbery of the First National Bank. Without hesitation, O’Malley showed up at the scene, unaware that he would be going up against John Dillinger, the Indiana bandit who would soon become famous as the first national Public Enemy #1. Continue reading

Dillinger’s Blue Jailbreak Suit in Public Enemies

Johnny Depp behind-the-scenes as John Dillinger in Public Enemies.

Johnny Depp behind-the-scenes as John Dillinger in Public Enemies (2009).

Vitals

Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber

Indiana, September 1934

Film: Public Enemies
Release Date: July 1, 2009
Director: Michael Mann
Costume Designer: Colleen Atwood

Background

Once again, the best shots of Dillinger’s attire in this scene from Public Enemies are from production shots, as Michael Mann’s choice of a handheld camera and extreme close-ups just show close details. However, unlike the previous Public Enemies post, Dillinger was nowhere near the incident being portrayed on film.

While Dillinger did indeed engineer the breakout of his prison buddies from the Michigan City Penitentiary on September 26, 1933 – eighty years ago yesterday – he was nowhere to be found on the day in question. Was he being smart by avoiding the situation? Was he scared?

Neither. He was in jail himself.

About a week earlier, Dillinger had managed to smuggle three .45-caliber pistols, likely the gang’s favorite Colt semi-automatics. On September 26, Harry Pierpont and Charley Makley found the marked box with the guns inside. They dug them out and, with eight other yeggs, managed to get out of prison. Unlike the film adaptation, it was relatively bloodless with no fatalities. Some of the prisoners were quickly rounded up and either killed or returned to prison, but the nexus of the Dillinger Gang: Pierpont, Makley, Russell Clark, Walter Dietrich, and John “Red” Hamilton, were now back together again. The only problem was Dillinger himself. Continue reading

Warren Oates’s Dark Brown Suit as Dillinger

Warren Oates as master bank robber John Dillinger in 1973's Dillinger.

Warren Oates as master bank robber John Dillinger in 1973’s Dillinger.

Vitals

Warren Oates as John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber and “super gang” leader

Mason City, Iowa to Manitowish, Wisconsin – Spring 1934

Film: Dillinger
Release Date: July 20, 1973
Director: John Milius
Costume Designer: James M. George

Background

By March 1934, John Dillinger had well-established himself as a national criminal hero. He made a mockery of both hated bankers and inept police and, best of all, he kept getting away with it. Sure, he wasn’t the only beloved “Public Enemy” in the national scene, but “Baby Face” Nelson was too violent, Bonnie and Clyde were too incompetent, and no one had heard from “Pretty Boy” Floyd in almost a year. Continue reading