Dillinger (1973 film)
|Directed by||John Milius|
|Produced by||Samuel Z. Arkoff
|Written by||John Milius|
Harry Dean Stanton
|Music by||Barry De Vorzon|
|Editing by||Fred R. Feitshans Jr.|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
|Running time||107 minutes|
|Box office||$2 million (US and Canada rentals)|
Dillinger is a 1973 gangster film about the life and criminal exploits of notorious bank robber John Dillinger.
It stars Warren Oates as Dillinger and Ben Johnson as his pursuer, FBI Agent Melvin Purvis. It contains the first film performance by the singer Michelle Phillips as Dillinger's moll as Billie Frechette. The film, narrated by Purvis, chronicles the last few years of Dillinger's life (depicted as a matter of months) as the FBI and law enforcement closed in. The setting is Depression era America, 1933-34.
Retired FBI Agent Clarence Hurt, one of the agents involved in the final shootout with Dillinger, was the film's technical advisor. The film includes documentary imagery and film footage from the era. It includes a verbal renouncing of gangster films written by FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover: he was scheduled to read it, but died before the film's release. The written words of Hoover are read at the film's close by Paul Frees.
The film was followed by two made-for-TV spin-offs: Melvin Purvis: G-Man (1974) (teleplay written by Milius) and The Kansas City Massacre (1975), both directed by Dan Curtis and each starring Dale Robertson as Purvis.
- Warren Oates as John Dillinger
- Harry Dean Stanton as Homer Van Meter
- Geoffrey Lewis as Harry Pierpont
- Steve Kanaly as Pretty Boy Floyd
- John P. Ryan as Charles Makley
- Richard Dreyfuss as Baby Face Nelson
- Frank McRae as Reed Youngblood
- Ben Johnson as Melvin Purvis
- Michelle Phillips as Billie Frechette
- Cloris Leachman as Anna Sage, "The Lady in Red"
- John Martino as Eddie Martin
- Roy Jenson as Sam Cowley
- Read Morgan as Big Jim Wollard
- Richard Eschliman as Machine Gun Kelly
Milius agreed to write the script for a fraction of his usual price if AIP let him direct. Milius later said in 2003:
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.
Milius says he wanted to make a movie about Dillinger because "of all the outlaws, he was the most marvellous".
- A Million-Dollar 'Dillinger' by AIP Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 13 June 1973: g18
- 'Big Rental Films of 1973', Variety, 9 Jan 1974 p19
- The dime-store way to make movies-and money By Aljean Harmetz. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Aug 1974: 202.
- Ken Plume, "Interview with John Milius", IGN, 7 May 2003 accessed 5 January 2013
- Segaloff, Nat, "John Milius: The Good Fights", Backstory 4: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1970s and 1980s, Ed. Patrick McGilligan, Uni of California 2006 p 290