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"There was no hint of hardness about him, no evidence save in the alert presence of armed policemen that he had spent his formative years in a penitentiary. He had none of the sneer of the criminal... Looking at him for the first time...he rates as the most amazing specimen of his kind ever seen outside of a wildly imaginative moving picture.” —Chicago Daily News reporting on Dillinger at Lake

County Jail news conference, January 1934 Though many essays, books, songs and films have told fascinating stories from the Great Depression, Michael Mann has long been interested in examining this turbulent era through the experience of a criminal who became a folk hero for a generation. For Americans in the early 1930s, who watched their life savings vanish and became jobless and hungry, they found a hero in a man who robbed and challenged the Special Agent Melvin Purvis (CHRISTIAN BALE) and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (BILLY CRUDUP) discuss the war on crime. banks that caused the collapse and the government that could not fix it: John Herbert Dillinger.

Mann, who had previously written a screenplay about the era—about the famed train robber and bank robber Alvin Karpis—explains Dillinger's appeal: "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 onto the landscape. And he was going to have everything and get it right now.”

"In assaulting the banks,” the director continues, "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.”

While no time frame in either Dillinger's or nemesis Melvin Purvis'lives could be considered particularly ordinary, the filmmakers were interested in a very specific window as they imagined Public Enemies. "It was this 14- month run of Dillinger's life that opened a window for us into a confluence of forces that were at work during this period of American history,” says producer Kevin Misher.

"There was a nexus between John Dillinger, perhaps one of the more famous Americans of the 20th century; Melvin Purvis, the underanalyzed G-man; and J. Edgar Hoover, a titan of American history. These three were in a dance of power and death.” Soon after his release from prison until late June 1934, Dillinger embarked upon a whirlwind bank-robbing spree across the Midwest that attracted fervent nationwide attention, especially from J.

Edgar Hoover and his nascent Bureau of Investigation.

To track and capture Dillinger, Hoover assigned a young, square-jawed agent named Melvin Purvis, whose profile actually inspired cartoonist Chester Gould in creating the look for Dick Tracy. But Dillinger and his men proved to be much wilier than the FBI agents, who would eventually bring down such gangsters as Pretty Boy Floyd (CHANNING TATUM of Fighting, upcoming G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), or their boss could ever imagine.

As they honed their techniques, Dillinger and his crew used a number of strengths to their advantage: a hardness hewn by years in prisons th ‘ at were as lawless as they, the latest in automatic weaponry, a fragmented public safety system that had not yet been nationalized, state-of-the-art Ford V8 getaway cars and the knack for riding the wave of antibanking sentiment from the very public whose banks they plundered.

While they could easily argue with his methods, few who saw the newsreels during Saturday matinees would disagree that someone was finally "sticking it” to the fat cats who they felt had destroyed their lives.

Time and again, the outlaw embarrassed government at every level and escaped from seemingly impossibl

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