Public Enemies (15)

JOHN Dillinger was America s Robin Hood, a folk hero robber whose charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to the public. In the early 1930s, Americans were looking for a symbol to divert them from their everyday hardships and they found it in the man

JOHN Dillinger was America's Robin Hood, a folk hero robber whose charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to the public.

In the early 1930s, Americans were looking for a symbol to divert them from their everyday hardships and they found it in the man who took from the banks the monies they felt the banks had wrongly taken from them.

No one could stop Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him.

But while his adventures thrilled many, J Edgar Hoover planned to exploit the outlaw's capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI.


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He made Dillinger America's first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Melvin Purvis, the dashing "Clark Gable of the FBI," to snare him.

Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Billy Crudup in PUBLIC ENEMIES (15), telling the story of Dillinger versus the FBI.

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Mann, who had previously written a screenplay about the era - about the famed train robber and bank robber Alvin Karpis - says: "Dillinger, probably the best bank robber in American history, only lasted 13 months. He was paroled in May of 1933, and by July 22, 1934, he was dead. Dillinger didn't 'get out' of prison; he exploded on to the landscape. And he was going to have everything and get it right now."

"In assaulting the banks, and outwitting the government...to people battered by the Depression, it's as if he spoke for them. He was a celebrity outlaw, a populist hero."

Depp, who plays Dillinger, says: "Funny enough, when I was a little kid, there was a long period where I was fascinated with John Dillinger. No particular explanation why, I just was; he struck my fancy somehow.

"But looking back on that initial interest in Dillinger and the fact that it's carried through for the majority of my life, it was his character. It was who he was as a man...back at a time when men were really men. He was, for good or ill, exactly who he was, without any compromise whatsoever."

Depp was able to spend time in some of the haunts frequented by the "Gentleman Bandit" and handle weaponry the man had used.

He said: "I read many books on him, but aside from all the research, more of it had to do with an instinct and understanding of the man.

"I related to John Dillinger like he was a relative. I felt he was of the same blood. He reminded me of my stepdad and very much of my grandfather. He seemed to be one of those guys with absolutely no bull whatsoever."

The actor continues: "I think Dillinger had some idea of what he was doing. I believe he had found himself and was at peace with the fact that it wasn't going to be a very long ride...but it was going to be a significant ride."

Christian Bale plays Purvis and spent time with Purvis' son, Alston.

Marion Cotillard, who won an Oscar for playing Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, is Billie Frechette, the love of Dillinger's life.

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