The Curator of Schlock #346 by Jeff Shuster

Dillinger

A whole lot of shooting going on. 

I’ll be spending the weekend with Tiny Todd and Mrs. Tiny Todd, She told me to mind the Mrs. We’re getting ready to load up the truck with all sorts of fancy canning equipment for some town in Saskatchewan. Apparently, it’s for a ready-to-eat salmon salad factory, the production of which will save those poor Canadians from the unemployment lines. I sure hope nothing happens to Tiny Todd this weekend that will result in me having to get this much needed supplies to those desperate Canadians.

This week’s Arrow Home Video release is 1973’s Dillinger from director John Milius. This was the directorial debut of John Milius who would go on to direct such classics like The Wind and the Lion and the masterpiece that is Conan the Barbarian. Apparently, Milius was given the choice of directing BlaculaDillinger, or Black Mama, White Mama. The ever-lovable Warren Oates stars as John Dillinger, the notorious bank robber who caused much mayhem during the Great Depression. I think the movie was made in response to the success of Bonnie and Clyde.

I remember my early college days, taking a history of film class. Our professor told us how he had seen Bonnie and Clyde right after Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. The professor had been a college student helping with the campaign and seeing one of the most violent movies of that time right after such a horrible event caused a gut reaction of disgust over what he saw on the big screen. We then watched Bonnie and Clyde in his film class. Yes, B&C was violent, but you’re talking to a guy who grew up on Stallone and Schwarzenegger fare.

Dillinger carries on this proud, violent tradition. John Dillinger and his gang go rob a bank and then they rob another bank and then they rob another bank and-oh, crap! There are cops waiting for them outside of that third bank. A shootout commences. They kill some cops, but the gunfire becomes too much for them and they have to get out of Dodge. Usually, one of his crew gets blown away in the process. Maybe the getaway driver will run over a little old lady while trying to get away, too.

Hot on Dillinger’s trail are J. Edgar Hoover’s G-Men led by Melvin Purvis (Ben Johnson). Purvis keeps failing to capture Dillinger over and over again, but claims that he has plenty of time to do it. He just has to wait for Dillinger to screw up. In the meantime, we get to see Purvis taking out several criminals, usually in a violent fashion that result in said criminal getting riddled with bullets with blood spurting out everywhere. That’s okay since this movie is based on a true story. You’re getting a history lesson with this one, a lesson with lots of bullets zipping into soft flesh. I guess they didn’t have kevlar back then.

The Arrow Blu-ray doesn’t disappoint with an audio commentary track and interviews with the movie’s cinematographer and score composer. So if you want a movie that’s like Bonnie and Clyde, check out Dillinger.

Or you can just re-watch Bonnie and Clyde, which is a better movie.


Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444, and episode 450) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.