Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Jul 17, 2009 1:57 pm

From an interview with Michael Mann by Roger Ebert:

"What mystified me," Mann said, "was that Dillinger had no idea of a future. Not even a concept of future plans. You just go and do what you're gonna’ do for as long as you can do it, and it may short and sweet, but one hell of a ride."

"They were there for the intensity of the ride. The grimness he came from was so extreme he never even questioned the bountifulness of the moment. If you're lucky enough to have a job in 1933, you're making $500 a year. They were kings; they put their hands in their pockets and they had $20,000 in cash in there. They believed in fate. Expressions like 'There's a bullet with your name on it,' or 'When your time's up, your time's up.' In other words, a kind of Calvinism without God -- of predetermination."

"With all this planning," Mann said, "it never occurred to these guys to steal $250,000 and then go to Brazil. There was no idea of the future; just this intense, white-hot burning drive. And in Dillinger's case, he lived his whole life in 13 months, that's it. He hits a bank, gets shot up, gets wounded, gets patched up and all that occurs in 10 days. They go to Sioux Falls -- no, Mason City, Iowa, then they're suddenly in Wisconsin, then they decide to go to Florida. And everything is happening in days and weeks, and it's all this insane ride. It's only when Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) enters his life that, for obvious reasons, he starts to have even the idea that there's something beyond the immediate right now."



Why didn’t they quit while they were ahead of the game? Do you agree with Mann about Billie’s influence on Dillinger?
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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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby gemini » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:51 pm

I think Mann answered his own question. Their whole life of fame only lasted a few months. They barely had time to get used to the taste of life after spending so many years in prison. Especially Dillinger who went to prison at 21. Those few months were the only time he was free as an adult.
They knew their occupational risks and that the chances of survival were slim so they threw all the living they could in a short space of time.
After he met Billy they did start thinking of plastic surgery as a way out. When she went to jail it probably threw him that she would be behind bars for 2 years and his chances of surviving that long were not good. He did continue with the surgery and plan for his last big robbery in the hopes of leaving the country. He just pressed his luck a bit too long. If he had made it, who knows, he may have come back for Billy or he might have took Polly with him in the mean time. Ya never know..

Why didn’t they quit while they were ahead of the game?
Dillinger himself said, all the money did was buy him a way to live. I think they spent a lot to be protected. He probably needed a big haul to have enough to live somewhere else without continuing to be a robber.
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers

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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby Betty Sue » Fri Jul 17, 2009 3:21 pm

Good answer, gemini! As far as not quitting while they were ahead, Dillinger, for one, seemed to think he was way too smart and formidable to be caught, so why not keep on keepin' on? I have a feeling that, like so many behind bars, the gang had attention deficit disorder tendencies and wasn't that good at planning for the future, but great at seizing an exciting moment.
Yes, I think Billie was having a good influence on JD. She was very concerned about his 'health,' and he wanted to please her, to take care of her, not be a source of trouble to her. So, hmmmnnn, what would have happened if he'd entered another line of employment? :perplexed:
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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby deppaura » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:19 pm

There also seems to be some personality disorder that finds living on the edge, and, in danger, addictive and exciting. Dillinger deviated greatly from a simpler more "quality" of life. Lots of folks suffered through the Depression. Some committed suicide. Most dealt with it. I don't think the conditions justify Dillinger's behavior. And, now, all this subtle revelation, that he was in fact aided in his robberies and/or set up. Maybe I just have a hard time being sympathetic and or interested in him. I think Mann glamorized him to make an "exciting" movie?

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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Jul 17, 2009 4:36 pm

It is difficult to speculate. It is true, when you look at the Depression and the amount of money the gang robbed from the banks, the money they had was astronomical. ADD? Testosterone? Pure stupidity? I think they probably had other motives besides the cash -- whether it was noteriety or excitement or whatever.

Some of the money probably did go to the mob members and to people like Zarkovich for protection. Some was probably spent on fancy cars and good booze and expensive women. But it is hard to believe that they could go through thousands and thousands of dollars in a matter of days given the times they lived in. I wonder if the staged robbies were actually done for a small percentage of the take, or even for a flat fee, and the rest of the money returned to the crooked bankers themselves.

I have trouble understanding the decision to rob banks for a living in the first place :perplexed: , so I probably can't speak to why Dillinger didn't use his head and go far far away with his money.

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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby ladylinn » Fri Jul 17, 2009 5:41 pm

I don't believe Dillinger and his gang ever got enough ahead to even consider quitting. They needed money for their wild way of living and seem to always have someone with their hand out - lawyers - cop bribes - women - safe houses - etc. Altho Dillinger did help out his family at times - the amount of money he stole was alot more than what he sent his family. I don't agree with Mann that Billie influnced Dilinger to think about the future. He was enjoying the "ride" too much and so was Billie. It makes an interesting storyline for the movie.

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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby trygirl » Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:38 pm

I think he didn't cut his loses and run for the same reasons he kept escaping from jail, he just enjoyed the ride a little too much. Today he'd probably be called an adrenaline junkie. Once you start believing you're untouchable, you become your own worst enemy. And ladylinn makes a good point, they were never really ahead of the curve enough to retire. They stole a lot for their day but it didn't last them very long. In the end, I feel the money was obsolete for Dillinger, he started caring more about being the Clark Gable of bank robbers. He loved Billy, or at least deeply cared for her, but he was a man that fell in love with ease. I'm sure her place in his life effected him but she may not have been his biggest reason for wanting to abscond from it with plastic surgery and other forms of disguise.
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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:10 am

Nice answers all around! :applause2:

I don’t think Dillinger ever grew up with the idea that there was something better for him in the future. His life as a young man didn’t hold much promise and the harsh 9 year jail term certainly didn’t give him much hope that things would get better. He lost his first real love and his wife divorced him, what did he have to look forward to? The life he was leading was exciting, daring and gave him a bit of fame, recognition and success. I agree with those of you who say he was an adrenaline junkie, the thrill of the moment! They had to spend a lot of what they “collected” on just staying alive. How would they have saved any money? Put it in a bank? :-O Put it under a mattress? They were never in one place for long enough. I think they would have needed to pull one big job (the train robbery?) and have plans in place to escape to South America or wherever already in place. As far as Billie having an influence on him, I do believe he loved her and would have stayed with her had their situations been different. I’d like to think he would take himself off to some safe place and wait for her but that wasn’t in his nature or in the cards.
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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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 18, 2009 12:30 am

I agree with you, gemini, that he answered his own question and that their spree was such a short one. I think any of us would be thinking that the time frame that he was working in was such a short period of time, that we would not be thinking beyond that. And he did have the foresight to change his appearance with plastic surgery.

Speaking of his plastic surgery, DITHOT and I were in Dragon Books today (in the Hollywood Hills) and found 6 photos of Dillinger worth $1750. There were new angles of Dillinger's morgue pics that I hadn't seen before. Plus there were artists' renderings of how law enforcement believed Dillinger would look if he had altered his appearance. The store is also in the process of having 2 other documents framed and displayed--due to the store in 2-3 weeks. One is a letter and the other a wanted poster. The letter is only the 2nd letter to come up in auction. What's interesting is that we didn't go there expecting to find anything on Dillinger per se.

Did Billie have an influence on him? I believe so, to a degree. I think he was his own man, but it was apparent to me that he was devoted to her as much as he could have been devoted to anyone. He did make an attempt to get her out of jail, and was obviously very unhappy with the treatment she received.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: Dillinger Question #12 ~ Quit While You Are Ahead

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sun Jul 19, 2009 2:07 pm

Another unexpected item of interest we stumbled upon in Dragon Books was an autographed, first edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It could be yours for $3,7500.00! :-O
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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