Bryan Burrough Q&A #15

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Bryan Burrough Q&A #15

Unread postby Liz » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:30 am

ONBC: The protagonist in every tragedy has a fatal flaw, what was Dillinger’s?

Bryan Burrough: The easy answer is women. A woman got him killed. But the deeper answer, I think, is his need to drink of life. If he had stayed under wraps in some kind of hideout, he might have lived another few months. But it was his need to get out to night clubs and dance halls, to engage with life, that got him killed. You got the sense that Dillinger was one of those men who was never entirely comfortable being alone, and it was the need to be with people that ultimately did him in.
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Unread postby Endora » Mon Mar 31, 2008 11:28 am

Just a thought on the term tragedy here. To me, if something is a tragedy, it means that a person capable of great achievements went wrong somehow, by perhaps a bad flaw in his nature or error of judgement. A tragic hero (Dillinger here) can't be all good or even all bad.

But to the point: Would Dillinger ever have been capable of great achievements? You could say robbing banks was a great achievement I suppose but I doubt that it counts. If not, it isn't really a tragedy, just a sad story. Calling it a tragedy gives it some greater significance that it shouldn't really have.

If I had to name a flaw, however, I'd say that his was that he felt himself to be above the common law of morality.

(You can tell the blonde is on holiday here, she's thinking about this way too much.)
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Unread postby Mrs.Nobody » Mon Mar 31, 2008 12:08 pm

Endora wrote:Just a thought on the term tragedy here. To me, if something is a tragedy, it means that a person capable of great achievements went wrong somehow, by perhaps a bad flaw in his nature or error of judgement. A tragic hero (Dillinger here) can't be all good or even all bad.

But to the point: Would Dillinger ever have been capable of great achievements? You could say robbing banks was a great achievement I suppose but I doubt that it counts. If not, it isn't really a tragedy, just a sad story. Calling it a tragedy gives it some greater significance that it shouldn't really have.

If I had to name a flaw, however, I'd say that his was that he felt himself to be above the common law of morality.

(You can tell the blonde is on holiday here, she's thinking about this way too much.)


For me all humanity has the potential to be great. The ripple effect. So any loss of life is a tragedy. Who knows what lives he could have touched or what could have happened if he didn't rob banks...It's a wonderful life to quote George Bailey. :chill:
He has a way of huddling down under his hat and his totemsBut when the camera was on him, some of the times, he kind of beamed Johnny out It was striking, like one of those magic powers in those hobbit movies.John Richardson Esquire Magazine

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Unread postby Liz » Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:03 pm

The blonde, I hope you are enjoying your holiday. :cool:

Dillinger appears to have been a very bright and personable guy. The tragedy, IMHO, is that he wasted his talents and virtues on bank robbing.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Unread postby gemini » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:01 pm

I think Mr Burrough nailed his fatal flaw. I read when Dillinger and Van Meter were living with Probasco healing from their plastic surgeries that they both had to get out of the house even just to walk the neighborhood. I think it might have had something to do with spending years in jail, that being cooped up was worse than the chance of being caught.

I read somewhere that Dillinger was quoted as saying if he had his life to live over he would not have made the same mistakes. He wanted a regular life.
Last edited by gemini on Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Parlez » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:39 pm

I think the word tragedy fits someone whose life was scripted just like a Greek...tragedy. Ergo, the term fits for me.
I also picked up a definite feel for Dillinger's jumpy, restless, jittery demeanor. (I wonder if Johnny will capture that in his portrayal?) Whether said demeanor came from an innate desire to drink deeply of all life had to offer, or as a result of having been cooped up in prison at a young age, or a combination of the two, he just wasn't the sort to go into hiding ~ hence the facial surgery.

What Dillinger acheived in his life, and particularly in his death, was something quite unique, IMO. He not only gave the country a heroic figure to relate to and cheer on during hard times, but his legacy as an outlaw/hero is essentially as romantic an image for us today as it was back then. What Dillinger did, essentially, was to spark the human imagination. And he's still doing so today. I think that's a good thing, and pretty special, contribution-wise. I think it far outweighs his 'bad' deeds.

Just my opinion, of course. :twocents:
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:14 am

Endora wrote:Just a thought on the term tragedy here. To me, if something is a tragedy, it means that a person capable of great achievements went wrong somehow, by perhaps a bad flaw in his nature or error of judgement. A tragic hero (Dillinger here) can't be all good or even all bad.

But to the point: Would Dillinger ever have been capable of great achievements? You could say robbing banks was a great achievement I suppose but I doubt that it counts. If not, it isn't really a tragedy, just a sad story. Calling it a tragedy gives it some greater significance that it shouldn't really have.

If I had to name a flaw, however, I'd say that his was that he felt himself to be above the common law of morality.

(You can tell the blonde is on holiday here, she's thinking about this way too much.)

I think Dillinger was capable of greater things. He was charismatic, quick witted, disciplined, creative and fearless.

I'm not so sure Dillinger saw himself as above the law, as much as he saw the law as a corruption of decency. Robbing banks allowed him to move among the profiteer class and witness them trade on the misery of the masses. I think Dillinger was far too much a hedonist to be a revolutionary, but I sense he took great pleasure in being a trickster and a spoiler. In real life, you can't outrun the world forever, Wylie Coyote does eventually catch the Roadrunner. I think Dillinger's fatal flaw was that he convinced himself that day would never come.
"You can't broom out your head. You certainly can't broom out your heart. And there's a hot wire between them, and everything shows in the eyes."
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Unread postby gemini » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:28 am

Just a thought, but I don't think Dillinger felt that his capture day was never going to come. I think it was just the opposite, he knew it was coming and wanted to experience everything in a shorter period of time.
Last edited by gemini on Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Endora » Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:14 am

gemini wrote:Just a thought, but I don't think Dillenger felt that his capture day was never going to come. I think it was just the opposite, he knew it was coming and wanted to experience everything in a shorter period of time.


I would have thought the opposite. You are all kinder to him than I.

Maybe his flaw was arrogance?
Work hard, learn well, and make peace with the fact that you'll never be as cool as Johnny Depp. GQ.

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:15 pm

Endora wrote:
gemini wrote:Just a thought, but I don't think Dillenger felt that his capture day was never going to come. I think it was just the opposite, he knew it was coming and wanted to experience everything in a shorter period of time.


I would have thought the opposite. You are all kinder to him than I.

Maybe his flaw was arrogance?


And I keep going back and forth on this.

Parlez, I have to admit that we (including me personally) have profited, as it were, from his romantic image.
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 gemini » Thu Apr 03, 2008 11:47 pm

Endora wrote:
gemini wrote:Just a thought, but I don't think Dillenger felt that his capture day was never going to come. I think it was just the opposite, he knew it was coming and wanted to experience everything in a shorter period of time.


I would have thought the opposite. You are all kinder to him than I.

Maybe his flaw was arrogance?


I think after reading PE, I thought more like you but after reading "Dillinger the untold story", I looked at it differently. It was much more sympathetic and included some letters he had written. After I read PE he seemed more arrogant.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.


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