John Milius was well into his career by the time he made DILLINGER. He had written APOCALYPSE NOW, JEREMIAH JOHNSON and THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ROY BEAN. He was also a failed Vietnam vet, conservative gun nut and a classic case of a boy dreaming of the wide world, but living inside an insular one. Now none of this is really a negative. He. like many from the conservative right, see America as a force for good and a place at the pinnacle of human achievement. So when it came time to direct his first feature, a film about the power of the law and the settling of the criminal enterprises that took it on in the 1930s, were natural fits. Add to this the success of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967, it proved to AIP (or Nicholson and Arkoff) that money were to be made in the formula.

Warren Oates plays as John Dillinger. Seen as a legend and as an ego, he and his gang knock off a bunch of banks in the American back waters. Though he becomes a mythical figure and reaches the hallowed Public Enemy Number One spot, Melvin Purvis (Ben Johnson) sets his eyes on bringing him and his gang to justice. He will lead a group of G-men and catch Dillinger and his gang in the act. Spanning his infamous capture and his even more unbelievable escape (he did escape almost as depicted in the film), to his robbery spree, shootout, escape and eventual demise (no spoilers as you will know most of this if you have an historical sense), this is a journey through his life and crimes.

Tick off the names here. Warren Oates and Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Dreyfuss, Geoffrey Lewis and Michelle Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas). Then think of the premise. An actul, factual, recounting if a criminal superstar. Finally see the writer and director at the helm. What you have here is an almost mythical set up. The film you get, is something else. It is a complex mix of mythology, reality and probity in American ideals. Today, this might not sit well but then as now, it is all construct of opinion. Milius makes films that revel in the ‘space’ of his America but also are morally definite. I might like the film for its unveiling of the mask of Dillinger but I love it for its unvarnished acceptance of his and his gangs personality. However unpleasant that may be. I like many, bought the US release of this on BLU RAY. I can confirm this is the exact same. Same transfer. Same Extras. Same packaging. So buy if you haven’t.

  • 2K restoration of the film from original film materials
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of Savage Cinema and Screening Violence
  • Shooting Dillinger, an interview with director of photography Jules Brenner
  • Original Gangster, an interview with producer Lawrence Gordon
  • Ballads and Bullets, an interview with composer Barry De Vorzon
  • Still gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.