Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

by G.Russell Giradin & William J. Helmer

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Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 11, 2009 8:42 pm

Oops. I forgot to post the question today. :blush: It's been one of those days. :-)

What insights do you think Johnny took from this book to use in creating the role of Johnnie Dillinger?
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby trygirl » Sat Jul 11, 2009 10:50 pm

I think Johnny took Dillinger's relationship with his family as insight. The letters he wrote to his sister, niece, father, etc. were so heartfelt. I couldn't imagine a few others in his gang reading letters from home, let alone writing them. Dillinger's attitude toward his kin showed a completely different side to him. It's not the one painted by the media, the public, or especially the FBI. Besides his love for Billie Frechette, his genuine affection for his family is what makes him a real person and not an outlaw caricature. Perhaps Johnny used that loyalty to create a softness in Dillinger. I also hope Johnny was inspired by Dillinger’s love of books. Maybe Dillinger's avid reading was a comfort to a man with the same passion. Whatever knowledge gained, you really get the sense that Dillinger was a man lost.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby nebraska » Sun Jul 12, 2009 12:43 pm

This is a really interesting question because from reading Dillinger the Untold Story I got a sense of Dillinger as being a trickster, damaged by his youth and maybe a bit vulnerable because of it, full of love for the women in his life, and actually relatively harmless as criminals go. Johnny portrayed Dillinger as much harder, colder, dangerous, more calculating and more manipulative than I expected him to be after reading the book. I was especially surprised by his domineering treatment of Billie on the screen compared to what I had read, particularly when they first met and he seemed to be issuing orders to her instead of asking her anything. So I am not sure what Johnny took from the book for his portrayal. We know he read it (or at least owned a copy :lol: ).

Of course, I have no way of knowing what cuts might have been made during the editing and how much of Johnny's vision of Dillinger was set aside to make the action movie he was hired to make. I got the feeling that Johnny wasn't able to develop Dillinger as fully as he usually develops the characters he plays.

Johnny certainly portrayed Dillinger as being very smart and very charming, which matched the character of the man in the book. Other than that, I am not sure.......

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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Jul 12, 2009 2:52 pm

In several interviews Johnny said he feels a responsibility when he plays a real person to get it right out of respect for that person. I'm sure he must have read a lot and absorbed a lot from this book and maybe others. trygirl I agree that his loyalty and love for those he was close to must have been an inspiration. nebraska, I felt the same way you did about the character on the screen. While I don't doubt there was a hard side to John Dillinger I expected to see a bit more of his soft and charming side. Your point is well taken about what may have ended up on the cutting room floor. This was definitely an action picture and the Dillinger portrayed on the screen definitely fit the tone of the movie.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby gemini » Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:21 pm

In my opinion the film may not have portrayed Johnny's opinion of Dillinger at all. Mann seems to have wanted him shown as the dangerous bank robber that he was, and thought to only use the love story to show his soft side.
From Johnny's interviews where he says Dillinger didn't kill anyone, it seems he believed what the Dillinger family told him even over this book or Public Enemies. He did probably think he had to be a tough guy to survive prison and pull off the danger involved in robberies so he tried to show that side as well.
In both the books they try to show there wasn't always much honor among most thieves but Dillinger and his gang seemed to have it for each other. I think Johnny picked up on that and his love for Billy and his family.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby ladylinn » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:01 am

Having not seen the movie (one of the few people on earth and the zone) I can only comment on the interviews and previews I have seen. John Dillinger was quite connected to his family and tried his best to take care of his father and siblings. Johnny Depp seems to be quite close to his family and cares for them both in love and monitary actions. Johnny has stated that his great-grandfather was a bootlegger at one time. Another connection on the outside of the law with alot of excitment and harrowing experiences. I am sure Johnny tried to connect to the personal side of Dillinger and well as the criminal side.

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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Tue Jul 14, 2009 11:48 am

nebraska wrote:This is a really interesting question because from reading Dillinger the Untold Story I got a sense of Dillinger as being a trickster, damaged by his youth and maybe a bit vulnerable because of it, full of love for the women in his life, and actually relatively harmless as criminals go. Johnny portrayed Dillinger as much harder, colder, dangerous, more calculating and more manipulative than I expected him to be after reading the book. I was especially surprised by his domineering treatment of Billie on the screen compared to what I had read, particularly when they first met and he seemed to be issuing orders to her instead of asking her anything. So I am not sure what Johnny took from the book for his portrayal. We know he read it (or at least owned a copy :lol: ).

Of course, I have no way of knowing what cuts might have been made during the editing and how much of Johnny's vision of Dillinger was set aside to make the action movie he was hired to make. I got the feeling that Johnny wasn't able to develop Dillinger as fully as he usually develops the characters he plays.

Very well said, nebraska! I had many of the same impressions when I first saw the movie. I expected a Dillinger who was a bit more... I'm searching for the right word... fun loving? Someone who kidded more and laughed a little easier. And was just a bit less brutal and domineering. Especially after Johnny said that he didn't believe Dillinger killed anyone. Maybe the difference can be explained by what's on the cutting room floor, or by Mann's vision of the Dillinger character, or by the type of movie Mann wanted to make. Or, maybe Johnny just saw him differently. It's really hard to say. Part of me wants to believe that Johnny, left to his own accord, would have created a very different Dillinger. On the other hand I also believe that if he felt that strongly about the portrayal being incorrect, he would have fought tooth and nail to make it "right". So, this will remain something I'll be puzzling over for quite a while. :perplexed: I will say this: reading both books and following the filming so very closely gave me a whole new appreciation for what Johnny means when he says that what happens after his bit is done is really none of his business.

I do think he pulled Dillinger's loyalty to his friends and his love for Billie from the book, as others have said. I also think that much of Dillinger's swagger and bravado probably came from this account.

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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby fansmom » Tue Jul 14, 2009 4:59 pm

RamblinRebel wrote:
nebraska wrote:This is a really interesting question because from reading Dillinger the Untold Story I got a sense of Dillinger as being a trickster, damaged by his youth and maybe a bit vulnerable because of it, full of love for the women in his life, and actually relatively harmless as criminals go. Johnny portrayed Dillinger as much harder, colder, dangerous, more calculating and more manipulative than I expected him to be after reading the book. I was especially surprised by his domineering treatment of Billie on the screen compared to what I had read, particularly when they first met and he seemed to be issuing orders to her instead of asking her anything. So I am not sure what Johnny took from the book for his portrayal. We know he read it (or at least owned a copy :lol: ).

Of course, I have no way of knowing what cuts might have been made during the editing and how much of Johnny's vision of Dillinger was set aside to make the action movie he was hired to make. I got the feeling that Johnny wasn't able to develop Dillinger as fully as he usually develops the characters he plays.

Very well said, nebraska! I had many of the same impressions when I first saw the movie. I expected a Dillinger who was a bit more... I'm searching for the right word... fun loving? Someone who kidded more and laughed a little easier. And was just a bit less brutal and domineering. Especially after Johnny said that he didn't believe Dillinger killed anyone. Maybe the difference can be explained by what's on the cutting room floor, or by Mann's vision of the Dillinger character, or by the type of movie Mann wanted to make. Or, maybe Johnny just saw him differently. It's really hard to say. Part of me wants to believe that Johnny, left to his own accord, would have created a very different Dillinger. On the other hand I also believe that if he felt that strongly about the portrayal being incorrect, he would have fought tooth and nail to make it "right". So, this will remain something I'll be puzzling over for quite a while. :perplexed: I will say this: reading both books and following the filming so very closely gave me a whole new appreciation for what Johnny means when he says that what happens after his bit is done is really none of his business.

I do think he pulled Dillinger's loyalty to his friends and his love for Billie from the book, as others have said. I also think that much of Dillinger's swagger and bravado probably came from this account.

I'm in complete agreement with you, ladies. From watching the film, I'd say the only reason Dillinger didn't kill more people was that his random sprays with the machine guns luckily didn't hit anyone. It was not the overly romanticized Robin Hood story I'd feared it might be. Dillinger was indeed a lot tougher and more violent than I'd expected.

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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby Liz » Tue Jul 14, 2009 6:40 pm

fansmom wrote:
RamblinRebel wrote:
nebraska wrote:This is a really interesting question because from reading Dillinger the Untold Story I got a sense of Dillinger as being a trickster, damaged by his youth and maybe a bit vulnerable because of it, full of love for the women in his life, and actually relatively harmless as criminals go. Johnny portrayed Dillinger as much harder, colder, dangerous, more calculating and more manipulative than I expected him to be after reading the book. I was especially surprised by his domineering treatment of Billie on the screen compared to what I had read, particularly when they first met and he seemed to be issuing orders to her instead of asking her anything. So I am not sure what Johnny took from the book for his portrayal. We know he read it (or at least owned a copy :lol: ).

Of course, I have no way of knowing what cuts might have been made during the editing and how much of Johnny's vision of Dillinger was set aside to make the action movie he was hired to make. I got the feeling that Johnny wasn't able to develop Dillinger as fully as he usually develops the characters he plays.

Very well said, nebraska! I had many of the same impressions when I first saw the movie. I expected a Dillinger who was a bit more... I'm searching for the right word... fun loving? Someone who kidded more and laughed a little easier. And was just a bit less brutal and domineering. Especially after Johnny said that he didn't believe Dillinger killed anyone. Maybe the difference can be explained by what's on the cutting room floor, or by Mann's vision of the Dillinger character, or by the type of movie Mann wanted to make. Or, maybe Johnny just saw him differently. It's really hard to say. Part of me wants to believe that Johnny, left to his own accord, would have created a very different Dillinger. On the other hand I also believe that if he felt that strongly about the portrayal being incorrect, he would have fought tooth and nail to make it "right". So, this will remain something I'll be puzzling over for quite a while. :perplexed: I will say this: reading both books and following the filming so very closely gave me a whole new appreciation for what Johnny means when he says that what happens after his bit is done is really none of his business.

I do think he pulled Dillinger's loyalty to his friends and his love for Billie from the book, as others have said. I also think that much of Dillinger's swagger and bravado probably came from this account.

I'm in complete agreement with you, ladies. From watching the film, I'd say the only reason Dillinger didn't kill more people was that his random sprays with the machine guns luckily didn't hit anyone. It was not the overly romanticized Robin Hood story I'd feared it might be. Dillinger was indeed a lot tougher and more violent than I'd expected.


I'm in this camp too. This especially resonated with me:

RamblinRebel wrote:Especially after Johnny said that he didn't believe Dillinger killed anyone. Maybe the difference can be explained by what's on the cutting room floor, or by Mann's vision of the Dillinger character, or by the type of movie Mann wanted to make. Or, maybe Johnny just saw him differently. It's really hard to say. Part of me wants to believe that Johnny, left to his own accord, would have created a very different Dillinger. On the other hand I also believe that if he felt that strongly about the portrayal being incorrect, he would have fought tooth and nail to make it "right". So, this will remain something I'll be puzzling over for quite a while. :perplexed: I will say this: reading both books and following the filming so very closely gave me a whole new appreciation for what Johnny means when he says that what happens after his bit is done is really none of his business.


I generally have not thought about the fact that Johnny doesn't like to see his movies, until I saw this movie. And now I keep going back to the Letterman interview, and how, at the time, I thought it was such old news. Maybe it isn't such old news anymore.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby gemini » Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:15 pm

I recently had this same conversation with a friend about the Letterman interview and Public enemies. I feel like PE re enforced Johnny's view that he was done when the filming ended and he had no control over the finished product. After seeing PE, I was astounded about the timeline being all-wrong and the wrong people killed at the wrong times etc. Since Mann and Johnny talked about the authentic locations being used I felt they would stick more to the real story. I wonder if this isn't why Johnny didn't make the remarks about Dillinger not killing anyone on Letterman. The film was about Bourroughs PE but Johnny was carrying around "Dillinger The untold story" while filming so its hard to think he didn't notice the discrepancies.
Last edited by gemini on Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby Liz » Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:21 am

gemini wrote:I recently had this same conversation with a friend about the Letterman interview and Public enemies. I feel like PE re enforced Johnny's view that he was done when the filming ended and he had no control over the finished product. After seeing PE, I was astounded about the timeline being all-wrong and the wrong people killed at the wrong times etc. Since Mann and Johnny talked about the authentic locations being used I felt they would stick more to the real story. I wonder if this isn't why Johnny didn't make the remarks about Dillinger not killing anyone on Letterman. The film was about Bouroughs PE but Johnny was carrying around "Dillinger The untold story" while filming so its hard to think he didn't notice the discrepancies.

I don't want to get into a discussion about comparing the books with the film just yet. But I just want to say here that I don't think that Burrough's PE and Dillinger: The Untold Story contradicted each other. I just think that Helmer expands on PE. I'll bring up this point again when we get to that question.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby gemini » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:18 pm

Liz wrote:
gemini wrote:I recently had this same conversation with a friend about the Letterman interview and Public enemies. I feel like PE re enforced Johnny's view that he was done when the filming ended and he had no control over the finished product. After seeing PE, I was astounded about the timeline being all-wrong and the wrong people killed at the wrong times etc. Since Mann and Johnny talked about the authentic locations being used I felt they would stick more to the real story. I wonder if this isn't why Johnny didn't make the remarks about Dillinger not killing anyone on Letterman. The film was about Bouroughs PE but Johnny was carrying around "Dillinger The untold story" while filming so its hard to think he didn't notice the discrepancies.

I don't want to get into a discussion about comparing the books with the film just yet. But I just want to say here that I don't think that Burrough's PE and Dillinger: The Untold Story contradicted each other. I just think that Helmer expands on PE. I'll bring up this point again when we get to that question.

I agree Liz. I didn't mean to say the books were different but since Johnny was reading one at the time the facts would be more in his thoughts.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:28 am

True, Gemini. And there were more facts….or more details. I would think that Helmer’s book would give him a better all around picture of Dillinger.
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Re: Dillinger Question #6 ~ Johnnie & Johnny

Unread postby gemini » Thu Jul 16, 2009 12:48 am

Liz wrote:True, Gemini. And there were more facts….or more details. I would think that Helmer’s book would give him a better all around picture of Dillinger.


Definitely !
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