Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dillinger (1945)

A Good 40s Gangster Piece

- Max Nosseck's 1945 film Dillinger is an enjoyable gangster flick about the notorious '30s bank robber John Dillinger. This film is not a completely true historical retelling or an accurate portrayal of the real John Dillinger, often times leaning on and embellishing upon unproven historical rumors and making Dillinger more ruthless than he actually was. However, the resulting lack of history in 1945's Dillinger is a great screen gangster character and enjoyable crime flick; and if one does not know jack squat about the real story of John Dillinger, nothing is going to be a bother in the first place!

Lawrence Tierney stars in his first headlining role as John Dillinger and gives a great performance. Tierney is simply perfect for the tough as nails and mildly psychotic gangster role, perhaps because Tierney is himself a thug (his bar brawls and time in jail ended up hurting his promising career though). Seriously, Tierney has a fantastic lion-like screen presence, seizing the focus of every shot and burning a hole through the screen with a fervid glare.

The rest of the cast does a good job in their roles as well. Edmund Lowe performs his role well as Dillinger's screen mob mentor Specs Green, Marc Lawrence is especially memorable as one of Dillinger's gang members, and Anne Jeffreys is a knock-out as the infamous "Lady In Red." Dillinger also has a real nice look to it with a dark guiding force and rushes at a brisk pace (and it has to with a 71 minute runtime). An Oscar-nominated Philip Yordan screenplay; enticing bank robberies, shootouts, and escapes; and an enjoyable Dimitri Tiomkin score add entertainment a-plenty to Dillinger.

CBC Rating: 7/10

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