Public Enemies Question #1 ~ Johnny as Dillinger

by Bryan Burrough

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Liz
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Unread postby Liz » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:00 pm

Betty Sue wrote:Mr. Betty Sue just came up with another reason Johnny wanted to do the movie: he knows I live in Wisconsin! :-O :lol:

Oh really! :-O Perfect Gangster name, Ma!

Theresa wrote:It was the part in the book (and I don't have my book with me, so I can't quote it) where Dillinger spread the coat out on the floor so the bank customer wouldn't have to lie on the cold floor. That, even more than Dillinger's counter-vaulting, is what convinced me that Johnny would really be perfect for the role.

Great example!

Charlene, I hadn't thought about the prothesis. :eyebrow:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:10 pm

Miss Maggie, glad you are joining us even though you haven’t quite finished the book yet. :disco: It’s certainly longer than most of the books we read here.

Calamity Jem, I like the name. :cool:

Nebraska, I look forward to seeing what your gangster name is. :bounce:

Jeez, I hope I will be able to keep all these names straight. :dunce:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Parlez » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:26 pm

You bet! With such an impressive collection of monikers, aliases, aka's and code names we're really cookin' with gas now! Those '30's gangsters' molls don't have anything on us. We'll do both JD's proud with our discussion. :cool:
BB
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:32 pm

Very nice start, molls! Keep it going! :bounce:
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Unread postby Linda Lee » Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:04 am

Why do you think Johnny agreed to the role of Dillinger?
For the hats! He gets to wear hats - straw boaters, maybe a fedora, he'll be able to add to his collection. :lol:
I think he finds it interesting to play the "bad guy" who is charming and charasmatic.


What indications do you get from the book that Johnny is perfect for this role?
The description of Dillinger as handsome, athletic and charasmatic, even during the bank robberies. The time period also works as we've seen Johnny in some of the fashions of the time and he seems very comfortable.
The public saw Dillinger as a "romantic" figure, Johnny fits that image as well.

Rusty aka Linda Lee
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Unread postby Forever Alice » Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:08 am

Why do you think Johnny agreed to the role of Dillinger?

It's a good stage.
The story has colorful personalities - the outlaws & loners.
America was still very young.
The depression brought out so much desperation in people.
And the government had to do something to fix it all.
People were angry.
Roosevelt had to set up all these programs to get people working.

As a child, when we were learning about this time period,
I asked my grandfather about it. I thought Roosevelt was a good president,
because of what he set up for the country.
My grandfather disagreed.
He blamed Roosevelt for the state of the country, which shocked me.
I had my history book right in front of me.
He sent my wheel turning as to why.
He talked about the lack of jobs & money.
People were trying anything to live.
So, it was a breeding ground for robbers & gangsters.
Another wild west in a sense, because of the lack of structure, laws were discarded.
People glorified the outlaws.
Just like Billy the Kid.
I see it as "None of this is working. So, I'm doing it my way" attitude.

My posts will be in segments.
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Unread postby Forever Alice » Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:11 am

What indications do you get from the book that Johnny is perfect for this role?

I think he could relate to Dillinger on many personal levels.
Both had quit school & had a failed marriage.
We heard stories about Johnny as a troubling teen.

He already loves the hats & shoes from that time period. :heart2:
Johnny is taller, but he is slender like Dillinger.
I'd love to hear Johnny read one of the love letters Dillinger wrote to his wife Beryl Hovious.
He wrote sweet letters to her.
I liked his last letter to her. :cloud9:
But soon after, she divorced him.

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Unread postby Lady Jill » Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:29 am

Wow! You guys have been busy all day. Doesn't anyone work anymore??? :perplexed:

Why do I think Johnny chose this role??
The era speaks first, then I saw him really getting into the book, and that character of Dillinger - the "bad" guy that cares about people - giving the money to his family, his girl, and really not wanting to kill anyone. And that dark side of Dillinger - that came out that time when he lost it and did kill that guy - like Johnny's dark side, the angry bear inside. . .ah, creating the Dillinger with the lopsided grin and of course all those cool clothes that he probably already has in his closets!

What indications do you get from the book that Johnny is perfect for this role?
All the above and then some. I believe Johnny really got into doing Donnie Brasco, but adding that speakeasy period of life it fits him to a T!
One just might wonder what character he will base his character of Dillinger on. I thought of Humphry Bogart!

Cajun Kitty ( There's my pen name - I have always liked the tales of Bonnie and Clyde in the South, so I'm down helping them rob banks! )
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Unread postby AZDeppfan » Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:51 am

I too was surprised Johnny would take this role - seemed pretty ordinary. That was until I read the book and become fascinated with Dillinger myself. I pictured Johnny as Dillinger all while I was reading it - all the characteristics of Dillinger fit him so well. I also sensed a lot of :capnjack: in Dillinger. I can't wait to see what Johnny does with this - I'm sure he'll have a ball!
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:10 am

I think Johnny prefers the darker margins of human behavior and there is a difference between becoming famous, and becoming notorious. For all his smarts and charm and cunning... Dillinger still applied all of it to a brutal trade that got people hurt along the way.

And while Dillnger does share a little DNA with CJS—he definitely knew how to dash between the raindrops and hide in plain sight—I think he felt the darkness at his heels. As Barbosa said to Jack: “Think you can outrun the world? You know the problem with being the last of anything, by an by there be none left at all.” You can only get away with being the smartest guy in the room for so long.
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Unread postby e_phemera » Tue Feb 12, 2008 1:53 am

Greetings All -
I received my copy of 'Public Enemies' on Thursday but hadn't begun to read it yet. Now, after reading everyone's comments tonight, I'm eager to start.

I'm familiar with all the names because I read two non-fiction books about Bonnie & Clyde when I was 12, and they mentioned the other gangsters of the time. I remember from those books, that there was a sort of hierarchy of gangsters, for instance, Bonnie and Clyde were just country bumpkins to the more urban ones. And the brutal ones were lower status than the gentlemanly, pretty ones. I think I remember Dillinger as being on top of the heap.

In honor of my first grown up movie seen and never quite recovered from at the tender age of 12, and in honor of the actress that played Bonnie Parker, and was also in Johnny's films, DJDM and AD, I'll take the name "Faye", as in Faye Dunaway.

And, I'm not above speculating that just maybe Johnny has seen Bonnie and Clyde (although he was 4 when it was released), and so knows just how powerful a uniquely told gangster film can be.

Oh no, not again. Does anyone have a tissue?
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Unread postby LilMissy » Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:37 am

Great answers everyone! :cool: Can't really think of anything to add...I would be redundant at this point in the thread. I am on page 375 in the book and all I can visualize is JD as JD! :-O Plus, I need some :morning:

An alias you say? Just call me Billie The Girl...
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Unread postby radwen » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:56 am

Liz wrote:
radwen wrote:Great Question.

I was also wondering why this particular role.

Liz, I am curious what you are referring to in reference to Dillinger's story (?) I am asking because I am not very far into the book. And although I am enjoying it, I am having a hard time keeping every one's story seperated.

I look forward to reading everyone's answers. :cool:


Radwen, by his story, I am referring to what I learned from reading about Dillinger in this book. I was not familiar with him at all prior to this book. But in a nutshell, I’d have to say it’s his Robin Hood persona, mostly. Johnny tends to play the bad boy who’s actually “a good man”. Johnnie Dillinger also appeared to be loyal to his family & friends (as is Johnny), and to treat his girlfriends well. The women were definitely devoted to him. And the public was enthralled by Johnnie as Johnny’s fans are enthralled by him. I don’t think Johnny would be a good fit for any other gangster role. Baby Face Nelson he is not!

BB.....great name BTW.


Thanks, Liz :cool:
And I agree.
I actually got to a part of the book last night that focuses a little bit more on Dillinger. But your answer was a big help.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:57 am

I have to run to work, Noodlemantras and don't have time to answer all your posts (but that does answer your question, Lady Jill)! I think you all have nailed it so far. I will be interested to hear his influences on the character too.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Sheri » Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:54 am

I wasn't surprised that Johnny took the role at all. The Mob and gangsters have intrigued people for many decades now. He must have some interest in the subject matter, being that he did Donnie Brasco. I would imagine it would be interesting for him to take a role on the other side of the law to explore that. Also, I get the impression that he prefers roles of people who have actually existed, and likes to explore sides of them that people may not have known.

He's perfect for the role because we know we'll get a well thought out and well researched take on Dillinger that will be highly entertaining.

Alias? Hmmmm. How about Loose Lips Lola.......


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