Dillinger/Fun Facts

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Dillinger
  • As of 2010, Warren Oates is the only ever John Dillinger movie actor who actually looked like the notorious gangster.
  • J. Edgar Hoover protested this film being made and demanded that changes be made to the script to depict the FBI in a better light (see below). Shortly before his death he recorded a disclaimer to the film; it can be heard (spoken by an imitation voice) after the closing credits. The film depicts John Dillinger being shot outside the Biograph after he pulls his gun; in fact, Dillinger never pulled a gun that night. The FBI decided they were going to kill Dillinger rather than attempt to take him alive; they announced their presence, he turned to run, and was shot six times in the back.
  • When John Dillinger talks to reporters while being escorted through the Lake County Jail in Crown Point, Indiana, he shakes the hand of an "anonymous" woman and talks about how he likes the chief of police and the warden. In real life, the woman was Sheriff Lillian Holley who was the the chief of police and the warden of the prison from which Dillinger made his famous "wooden gun" escape.
  • While drinking in the bar, Billie comments that John Dillinger looks like Douglas Fairbanks. While Dillinger looks nothing like Fairbanks, it is a reference to Dillinger's admiration of Fairbanks. In real life, Dillinger, a movie buff, loved Fairbanks in The Mark of Zorro (1920) and its sequels. In the films one of Fairbanks's stunts was to leap over mesa walls. Dillinger supposedly loved the stunt so much that in early robberies, Dillinger used to vault over teller cages, imitating Fairbanks's moves from the movies.
  • This picture's cinematographer Jules Brenner has said of this film on his blog about his work on the VariaGallery website: "This was a great film to work on for a lot of reasons, starting with the experience of working for John Milius. He has always been a brilliant and naturally gifted writer, and this was his first effort as director. John deals in images that he visualizes in his mind's eye and I was, as his cinematographer, his instrument to realize them. From the get go, John expressed his vision of the film as the conveyance of the myth of John Dillinger. As is typical of a Milius hero, Dillinger was a larger than life individual who lived his life according to his own instinctive drive and carved out a full chapter in the annals of legend. The visual elements, the colors, compositions and photographic concept of the film was to further the idea of doing a "romance" of a historical figure. I don't believe I've ever worked for any director, before or since, with whom I felt a greater collaborative kinship than I did with John. The photographic paths I was taking at his inspiration were closely allied with my own visual aesthetics. One "effect" or style of photography that I employed was to control, through filtration and lab manipulation, the Kelvin responses of the film medium. My objective was to exploit a range of colors that were at once realistic and surrealistic. It created a picture that wasn't exactly what the mind and brain might render but, rather a "stretched out" palette of color. Not realistic, but I think it acted subliminally to further the romance concept. Some writers have criticized the film for its lack of faithfulness with the known facts, as though the film were intended as a documentary and it somehow fell short. Some call it "over-romanticized", failing to perceive the intentions and the style while so many of its viewers "got it" and went with it. While John had all the facts, known and surmised, his take on the story was, perhaps, to suggest why an audacious bank robber could capture the imagination of the public while his hand was in their pockets. It's no error of history that a myth built up around Dillinger, who was killed at the mere age of 31 years".
  • The real Biograph Theater in Chicago, where John Dillinger was killed, was one of the longest-serving movie theaters in America. Built in 1914, it finally stopped showing movies in July 2004, when it was closed for renovation to a stage theater.
  • The newsreel footage showing John Dillinger being extradited from Tuscon back to Indiana is actually a combination of the real news footage of Dillinger's transfer and that of the FBI transporting "Machine Gun" George Kelly. The latter is the footage of a ladder being rolled up to an American Airways plane and the wide shot of men gathered around cars.
  • Ben Johnson (Melvin Purvis) was 54 when shooting this film, the real Purvis died at the age of 56. This is almost twice the age the real Purvis was when John Dillinger was killed - 30 years old.
  • When Dillinger is locking up the guards during his "wooden gun" jail break from Crown Point, one of the guards asks "Where did you get that?" (meaning the gun). To which Dillinger replies "From my lawyer." In real life, many historians have uncovered evidence that John Dillinger's lawyer, Louis Piquett, made arrangements with Homer Van Meter and Baby Face Nelson to bribe a guard to smuggle a real gun to Dillinger for his escape. But the guard chickened out and gave Dillinger a wooden gun to bluff his way out.
  • Cloris Leachman's character is billed in the opening credits only as "The Lady in Red" but then is billed under the character's actual name of Anna Sage in the closing credits.
  • Writer-director John Milius once said that he wanted to make a movie about John Dillinger because "of all the outlaws, he was the most marvelous".
  • Although the film accurately portrays Baby Face Nelson as a kill-crazy gangster, contrary to what the film shows in his introductory scene, where John Dillinger fights Nelson, the two outlaws got along well together in real life.
  • After escaping from the Crown Point jail, John Dillinger robs the local bank. While he did not rob this bank in real life, according to Ed Saager, the garage mechanic Dillinger forced to drive the getaway car, as they were passing by the bank, John Dillinger did jokingly comment, "Geez, I wish I wasn't in such a hurry to get outta here...I'd love to stop by that bank."
  • At the Little Bohemia lodge, when John Dillinger is introduced to Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson, Floyd calls himself "Choc" Floyd when introduced. In real life, one of Floyd's early nicknames, predominately used by family and friends, was "Choc" in reference to Floyd's taste for Choctaw Beer. The real Floyd preferred to be called by this nickname rather than his more famous one.
  • The John Dillinger Gang's getaway driver, Eddie Martin (John Martino), is based on Eddie Shouse, an early gang member who was thrown out of the gang prior to Dillinger's capture in Tucson for trying to make a pass at Billie and trying to instigate a mutiny within the gang. There was another gang member named Eddie, his name was Eddie Green. But he had a more prominent position in the gang as a scout looking for banks to rob.
  • Although she appears in several scenes, Harry Pierpont's girlfriend, Mary, is uncredited. The name of the actress is Ann Ault. She now lives in Oklahoma City. As is the woman playing Nelson's wife, Helen.
  • Feature film directorial debut of John Milius.
  • The film was made and released about thirty-nine years after bank-robber John Dillinger had been shot dead outside Chicago's Biograph Picture Theater in 1934.
  • In 2003, writer-director John Milius said of this movie: "I look at it today and I find it very crude, but I do find it immensely ambitious. We didn't have a lot of money, or time, and we didn't have such things - we only had so many feet of track, stuff like that. So I couldn't do moving shots if they involved more than, what, six yards of track. We never had any kind of crane or anything. That's the way movies were made then".
  • The idea of Pretty Boy Floyd being apart of the John Dillinger gang is based on a still debated theory among historians and Dillinger biographers that Floyd participated in Dillinger's last bank robbery in South Bend, Indiana in June of 1934. While no witnesses at the scene of the robbery were certain it was Floyd, Joesph "Fatso" Negri, an associate of Baby Face Nelson, always claimed it was Floyd. Some believe Negri lied to cover up the fact it was he who was involved in the robbery.
  • The movie produced two television spin-offs, Melvin Purvis G-MAN (1974) and The Kansas City Massacre (1975).
  • Halliwells' described the picture as being in "a style reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
  • Fifth big screen movie to feature Depression era bank-robber John Dillinger though it's the seventh production if one counts two television works. The titles include Dillinger (1945); three episodes of the TV series Gang Busters (1952), particularly the episode Gang Busters: Dillinger (1952); Baby Face Nelson (1957); The FBI Story (1959); the made-for-TV Dillinger (1960); and Young Dillinger (1965). About just as many titles featuring John Dillinger have been made since this 1973 film. Marco Ferreri's Dillinger Is Dead (1969) featured documentary footage of John Dillinger.
  • Two different versions of the movie exist but with different main title music. The original first version features the song "We're in the Money" being played while snap shots of homeless and poor people are shown on the screen. The second alternate version has the same visuals but with a simpler instrumental cue which is called the "Theme from Dillinger" on the soundtrack LP.
  • Despite numerous depictions in movies, John Dillinger was not shot by Melvin Purvis. It is not known with certainty who fired the fatal shot, but most historians consider FBI agent Charles Winstead to be the likeliest candidate.
  • The film was made and released about twenty-eight years after the last big Hollywood movie about famous bank-robber. The picture had the same title to this first film, Dillinger (1945), as did a 1960 the made-for-TV tele-movie called Dillinger (1960).
  • Baby Face Nelson is identified by Melvin Purvis in the opening narration as "Lester 'Baby Face' Nelson". This is a combination of the outlaw's real name and alias. He was born Lester Gillis but often used "George Nelson". He was commonly called by his alias by both his friends and the media. The "Baby Face" moniker was an inside joke in the underworld about the youthful hoodlum which was picked up by the media.
  • The post-credits disclaimer by "J. Edgar Hoover," as well as the car radio newscaster, were voiced by an uncredited Paul Frees.
  • John Milius: "I got very expensive as a writer, so I was able to make a deal with AIP, who'd have never been able to buy one of my scripts. I said I'll write whatever you want if I can direct it. I'd have paid them to direct. I looked at the gangsters of the time, and the one that had the most appeal was John Dillinger. It was a subject I never would have chosen myself, but it allowed me to show how good I could do a gunfight, make the stuff cut together, make the story hold up, and make the actors act... I like it (the violence) because it's real. There are consequences in "Dillinger." You rob a bank, people are going to start shooting, and people are going to get hurt and shot. They run over a woman leaving the bank because that's what they did. They wee desperate. But you don't dwell on it. You don't dwell on the bullet hole and blood pulsing out."
  • The movie's opening title card read: "Indiana, 1933".
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