William Helmer Q&A #4

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William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby Liz » Thu Aug 06, 2009 1:12 pm

ONBC: I was speculating out loud in one of my posts that, in my opinion, the Chicago mob probably set Dillinger up a place to stay at Anna Sage’s and that is why he didn't suspect that she and Zarkovich would turn him in. Mr. Helmer, do you think the Chicago mob was involved with setting up Dillinger or was it only Zarkovich's idea to go to Purvis?

WH: After the Little Bohemia raid, the Chicago mob, which had cooperated with or at least tolerated the robbers and kidnappers, decided they didn’t need all the Federal heat these outlaws were generating. By this time the Dillinger gang was falling apart anyway, and the mob probably would have set Dillinger up themselves if they’d known where to find him. Possibly Dillinger already knew Anna Sage from his other criminal connections. He already knew Zarkovich as a rogue cop in East Chicago, whose mob ties there were instrumental in funneling money (via Van Meter of the Nelson gang and probably O’Leary) to help Dillinger escape from Crown Point. Zarkovich was a “boyfriend” of Anna Sage, who knew Dillinger’s identity from the start (despite her statements to the contrary), and additionally hoped the FBI would help her avoid deportation to Romania on morals charges. Exactly what preceded the betrayal isn’t known, but Zarkovich made the ambush contingent on the involvement of himself and other East Chicago cops, to make sure Dillinger was killed and could not blow the whistle on his East Chicago connections.
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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby shadowydog » Thu Aug 06, 2009 1:51 pm

This makes me more and more feeling "icky". The corrupt bankers and corrupt cops conspire to have Dillinger rob their banks so they can defraud the insurance companies. Then the corrupt cops conspire to have Dillinger killed so he can't rat them out. :-O :mad:
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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby deppaura » Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:22 pm

shadowydog wrote:This makes me more and more feeling "icky". The corrupt bankers and corrupt cops conspire to have Dillinger rob their banks so they can defraud the insurance companies. Then the corrupt cops conspire to have Dillinger killed so he can't rat them out. :-O :mad:



Guess they "eat" each other.

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby gemini » Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:43 pm

Yes, What you say sure seems to make sense. Since Dillinger was not really being helped by the Chicago mob anymore, (he found that out when Dr Moran refused to help Hamilton) he should have been a bit less trusting of Ana Sage and Zarkovich since he knew their connections.

Whether the mob gave permission or just looked the other way it seems Zarkovich felt he could probably get hold of whatever money Dillinger had on him plus the reward. He only had to make sure that Dilliger wasn't around to talk or his connections to the mob would be known. If that happened he would be in trouble with the police and the mob. Funny, he didn't have much worry in that regard because the FBi didn't want Dillinger alive anymore than he did.

There is irony in the whole situation. That Dillinger was worried Jimmy Probasco might be doing too much talking with his drinking made him turn to Ana Sage and probably Zarkovich to find another place to stay, which was like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. As Van Meter told him, Dillinger was just too trusting.

I know Dillinger feared the cops but he just couldn't see that there was no honor among thieves.
Last edited by gemini on Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby deppaura » Thu Aug 06, 2009 4:31 pm

Great info, Gemini. So, it was Van Meter who commented on Dillinger's trust and not Red Hamilton as witnessed in the film?? Oh well..

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Aug 06, 2009 6:37 pm

These are the kind of things I believe Johnny would want to portray, that Dillinger was as much a victim as a criminal, and I don't know that the movie let him do that ......except that the scenes leading up to his slaughter at the Biograph were sad. :bawl:

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby gemini » Thu Aug 06, 2009 7:13 pm

deppaura wrote:Great info, Gemini. So, it was Van Meter who commented on Dillinger's trust and not Red Hamilton as witnessed in the film?? Oh well..

If memory serves me ( I returned the book to the library) It was Van Meter, about the time that they were getting the plastic surgery and living with Jimmy Probasco, that told JD he was too trusting.
I also read "Handsome Harry" and Pierpont felt JD was too trusting also. I tried to keep the movie separate from the books because so much of it was fiction. They did get it correct that JD was truly upset over Hamiltons death.
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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby gemini » Thu Aug 06, 2009 7:22 pm

nebraska wrote:These are the kind of things I believe Johnny would want to portray, that Dillinger was as much a victim as a criminal, and I don't know that the movie let him do that ......except that the scenes leading up to his slaughter at the Biograph were sad. :bawl:


I agree, I think Johnny left to his own with a bit less directing would have made Dillinger have a bit of the charisma he was supposed to have had and let us see some of his personality.
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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby deppaura » Thu Aug 06, 2009 9:41 pm

gemini wrote:
nebraska wrote:These are the kind of things I believe Johnny would want to portray, that Dillinger was as much a victim as a criminal, and I don't know that the movie let him do that ......except that the scenes leading up to his slaughter at the Biograph were sad. :bawl:


I agree, I think Johnny left to his own with a bit less directing would have made Dillinger have a bit of the charisma he was supposed to have had and let us see some of his personality.


Yes, much as I want to support Johnny and did feel it was a strong performance, I missed and was looking for the charisma you mention. That personality exposure would have really rounded out the character. But, possibly the direction or lack of got in the way.

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby ladylinn » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:15 am

Dillinger seemed quite naive about who to trust and befriend even though he was quite charismatic (despite the lack of it in the movie).

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:23 am

Gemini’s right – there’s a lot of irony in this situation. For a guy who broke all the rules (the written laws), he sure expected his associates to play by the rules (or whatever was the equivalent of the pirate code amongst crooks in the 1930s) and not turn him in or double-cross him. He got very angry whenever anyone did. I think it gets back to that intense loyalty he felt toward his associates that we discussed earlier; he probably expected that loyalty returned and because of it trusted more willingly than he should have. He was a good "team player"... in a criminal sort of way. :lol:

Add that to the fact that he just didn’t want to live life as a hermit. Unless you’re going to take that route, you need to trust someone.

I agree with you all about the charisma, or lack of, in the movie and how Johnny might have played it differently. :cool:

I also find it fascinating how the East Chicago cops struck the deal with the Feds to be present at the take down, and also made sure the Chicago police didn’t know about it. I understand why Zarkovich wanted to be there to make sure Dillinger was killed. But with so many Chicago cops on mob payrolls, I’m finding it hard to believe they weren’t somehow informed. Or, maybe they were in the know and told to stay away. Or, maybe the mob wasn’t involved in the ambush at all, and it was strictly between East Chicago and the Feds. :perplexed: Guess we’ll never know for sure.

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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby gemini » Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:07 pm

Yes ,RamblinRebel, I do agree with your point that Dillinger didn't want to live like a hermit and to enjoy his life at all, he had to trust someone.

Almost everything I've read seems to follow the same theme and that is that Dillingers gang members were very loyal to him. (with the exception of Baby Face Nelson of his last gang ) Some of them didn't like each other but all liked Dillinger.

They all were friends in prison. Dillinger proved his loyalty to them supplying them guns to break out of Michigan City. Harry Pierpont, Charles Makely, and Russell Clark returned the favor by breaking Dillinger out of the Lima Jail. (Pierpont ended up executed for killing the sheriff in that breakout). Pierpont and Makely were counting on Dillinger coming for them and so were the police who added so much extra security it was impossible. Dillinger still supplied Pierpont's mother with money for their defense. It almost seems like they were counting on him because they didn't try to escape until they heard Dillinger was killed.

Red Hamilton was in both Dillinger gangs and was wounded several times. Dillinger tried to get him help when he was shot the last time but it was the mobs Dr that refused him. Van Meter stayed with Dillinger towards the end when they were working with Baby Face Nelson and the two even lived in the back of a pick up truck for awhile. I'd say his gang were as loyal as he was. He must have had some kind of charisma. He only had trouble with crooked cops and his mob connections.

As for the mob being present at Dillingers death, Zarkovich was there so they were represented.
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Re: William Helmer Q&A #4

Unread postby Liz » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:09 pm

RamblinRebel wrote:Gemini’s right – there’s a lot of irony in this situation. For a guy who broke all the rules (the written laws), he sure expected his associates to play by the rules (or whatever was the equivalent of the pirate code amongst crooks in the 1930s) and not turn him in or double-cross him.

This is a very good point, RR. And I do think that this came through in Johnny's portrayal in the movie. :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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