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Dillinger (1945)

Lawrence Tierney , Edmund Lowe , Max Nosseck  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Lawrence Tierney, Edmund Lowe, Anne Jeffreys, Eduardo Ciannelli, Marc Lawrence
  • Directors: Max Nosseck
  • Writers: Philip Yordan, William Castle
  • Producers: Frank King, Maurice King
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 5, 2005
  • Run Time: 70 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00097DY0W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,664 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dillinger" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Willie Sutton robbed banks during the Depression because, he explained, "That's where the money is." Former Indiana farmboy John Dillinger also knew where the money was. And his string of early-1930s heists, murders and daring jailbreaks were so bold and notorious he became Public Enemy #1. Dillinger, Oscar-nominated* for its screenplay, is the bullet-paced story of the man whose crimes captivated and terrified the nation. Lawrence Tierney plays the title role, breaking free of screen anonymity and moving into a 50-year tough-guy career that would include 1947's Born to Kill and 1992's Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps it was a brutal early prison stretch that turned Dillinger from kid to killer. Perhaps he was a murderous thug to his core. Either way, Dillinger presents his story with film-noir style and lets you decide.

Jean-Luc Godard dedicated his first film, Breathless, to Monogram Pictures, and Dillinger (1945) was probably the main reason why. Short and brutal, like the Depression outlaw's brashly improvisatory career, Max Nosseck's picture was a bit of an outlaw enterprise itself. In the '40s the major Hollywood studios had all taken a vow of chastity when it came to glorifying the headline-grabbing gangsters of the previous decade; Monogram ignored the embargo and barreled ahead, grabbing some headlines of its own and more box office than usual for a Poverty Row operation. Philip Yordan's script was Oscar-nominated (on the DVD's commentary track he co-credits his friend William Castle, director of Monogram's excellent When Strangers Marry), though the film has a patchwork feel to it, as if assembled and reassembled on the run. Directed by Max Nosseck, it's a hypnotic mix of bargain-basement filmmaking (lotsa stock footage and stark, minimalist sets), astute ripoff (the rain-and-gas-bomb robbery sequence from Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once), and Brechtian bravura. The storyline actually scants the ultraviolence (no Bohemia Lodge shootout) and all-star supporting cast (no Pretty Boy Floyd, no Baby Face Nelson) of Dillinger's real life--likely a matter of cost-cutting rather than abstemiousness. Newcomer Lawrence Tierney nails the guy's coldblooded freakiness and animal magnetism, and the supporting cast includes such éminences noirs as Marc Lawrence, Eduardo Ciannelli, and Elisha Cook Jr. Producers Maurice and Frank King would make the great Gun Crazy four years later. --Richard T. Jameson

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lawrence Tierney becomes a star in vintage crime drama August 18, 2004
By Dave
Format:VHS Tape
This is definitely one of Hollywood's first (if not the very first) movies about the notorious gangster, John Dillinger. Lawrence Tierney plays him to perfection as he guns down his victims while his cold, emotionless face shows no remorse. One of the most brutal scenes of all the gangster classics is when Tierney discovers an elderly couple about to phone the police & turn him in, & promptly guns them down. While this isn't a very accurate account of Dillinger's life, the main elements are there, especially the mysterious "lady in red" who betrays Dillinger to the police. Unfortunately, little time is spent on the details of his many bank robberies, but after all, this is a crime drama, not a documentary. Although largely forgotten today, this was a big success back in 1945, making Lawrence Tierney a star. His acclaimed performance in this classic led to starring roles in some great film noirs & gangster dramas: "Born to Kill"-1947, "The Devil Thumbs a Ride"-1947, "Bodyguard"-1948, "Shakedown"-1950, "The Hoodlum"-1951. If you like an entertaining gangster flick & aren't too picky about getting the facts right then this one's for you.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced action, but the DVD quality was sub par July 27, 2005
This review is for the 2005 Warner Brothers DVD.

This film is about the real life bank robber John Dillinger who is arguably the most notorious robber in the history of American and earned the nickname "Public Enemy #1". From my brief research on the internet, the movie appears to be relatively true to form. From the early `30s until his death in 1934, Dillinger wreaked havoc across America with his brutal bank robberies and daring prison escapes.

The film itself moves fast, but is only 70 minutes long. There is little character development and the action is continuous and rarely dull. Lawrence Tierney stars as John Dillinger. This was his screen acting debut and he does little to set the acting world on fire. Even in scenes of major confrontation, Tierney seems expressionless and lacks emotional body language. Perhaps this was by design by the director. But if you are fan of vintage gangster films, I'm confident that you will be entertained and pleased with action and drama.

The DVD was remastered but not restored and unfortunately there was a significant amount of film damage. There were five or six scenes with at least 3 or 4 seconds of severely damaged footage. The remastering helped make the picture look sharp but tiny specs of deterioration were still prevalent throughout the film, but that wasn't a major deal compared to the noticeably larger scratches. Warner has historically been one of the better studios for film restoration and they obviously decided to not fix up this film. Due to the limited market of a DVD like this, I'm sure the payoff wasn't there to restore an entire movie, but if they would have at least fixed the severely damaged frames, that would have been sufficient for me.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lawrence Tierney Rules!!! July 10, 2005
Yes, this film feels like a diatribe. It's probably less factual than the film version of John Dillinger's exploits that director John Milius made in the seventies. So why do I recommend this film over Milius' more polished account? Well, this film in a campy, over-the-top way is just so entertaining. Secondly, Lawrence Tierney in the title role is such a magnetic screen presence. His tough ferocity keeps the film's campier elements in check and grounds it in some semblance of reality. There's also a good supporting cast here with gangster veterans Marc Lawrence and Elisha Cook Jr. (seems like he's in all these noir-gangster flicks) on hand. The story is told here crisply and in an economical 70 minutes so if you have an hour plus to kill there's worse ways to do it. Oh, John, if only you had the two bucks to pay for the drinks!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-Moving, With A Real Thug Playing A Famous Thug! April 23, 2006
This movie has several big things going for it: its short, fast-moving and just plain entertaining. How much more do you want? Also, Lawrence Tierney was made for gangster/film noir movies. He looks the part, acts the part, and was a thug in real life, too. Who better than to portray famous criminal John Dillinger as a cold-blooded killer?

This was Tierney's starring debut and it was a good vehicle for him. I also enjoyed Edmund Lowe as the gang boss prior to Tierney taking over. I enjoyed the supporting cast, too: Anne Jeffreys, Elisha Cook Jr., Eduardo Cianelli and Marc Lawrence. All of them add to this film.

I was glad they concentrated on the crime part of the film and didn't go crazy with a sappy romance. However, I am sorry Jeffreys wasn't on screen more often. She had the '40s look, if I ever saw it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Picture That Could July 7, 2005
Movie: **** DVD Transfer: **** Extras: ***

This ultra low-budget film released by Poverty Row's Monogram Pictures is much better than the studio's standard fare, thanks to the artistry of a fine cast and a few capable technicians. The script by Philip Yordan is a typical biographical whitewash job that bears only a passing resemblance to the true story of 1930's gangster John Dillinger; and yet it works just fine as a piece of noir crime drama, with sturdy dialogue and interesting characters. In his first starring role, Lawrence Tierney acquits himself well as Dillinger; and lovely Anne Jeffreys (although anachronistic in her 1940's fashions and hairstyle) turns in a fine performance as his treacherous moll. But the real acting honors are shared by the four actors who comprise Tierney's original gang: former silent star Edmund Lowe; veteran character player Eduardo Ciannelli; the craggy-faced Marc Lawrence; and the always reliable Elisha Cook, Jr. Each of these men is given a brief but ample opportunity to shine, and each one makes the most of his turn in the spotlight. Also of note are the musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin, and the moody black and white cinematography of Jackson Rose.

The Warner Brothers DVD release of this film offers unexpectedly fine picture and audio quality. It must be kept in mind that to keep production costs down, "Dillinger" includes many snippets of stock footage from other films, and this generic footage was filmed at different times with varying film grains, and with a hodge-podge of technical styles. As presented here, it all blends fairly seemlessly, with only a few really rough spots standing out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Eh just so and so.
Fairly interesting. Nothing special.
Published 24 days ago by Monster Zero Tunes
4.0 out of 5 stars Not really the story of Dillinger, but that of a generic gangster from...
I liked this 1945 gangster movie/film noir, even if it is definitely NOT the true story of Dillinger and his gang. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Darth Maciek
I'm just now getting interested in film noir, and saw this version of "Dillinger" not too long ago on TCM. Liked it so much, had to own it! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ketch
4.0 out of 5 stars "His Story Is Written in Bullets, Blood and Blondes!"
Tough and gritty Monogram biopic with a slightly larger budget. No-nonsense Lawrence Tierney is the real deal as notorious John Dillinger - ably supported by Edmund Lowe, Anne... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Scott T. Rivers
2.0 out of 5 stars dissapointing
I was disappointed. Gene Tierney got better after this one. His performance was wooden. Cinematograhy was not interesting. Pace too slow.
Published 4 months ago by Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Watch with the John Milius commentary on.
I watched it for the first time with the John Milius commentary on. He directed the later (second?) Dillinger film. Read more
Published 17 months ago by V. R. Padgett
5.0 out of 5 stars Lawrence Tierney scores again as menacing gangster!
If you have never seen a meaner performance, watch Tierney in this star-making film. Also recommended, BORN TO KILL with Claire Trevor who both give a new meaning to star-kill... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Ronald Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Great classic gangster movie,if your a classic gangster movie fan this one is for your collection.Plus lawerence Tierney plays a great Dillinger.
Published 18 months ago by maxx
4.0 out of 5 stars Dillinger
Poverty Row Monogram's biggest hit dealing with subject matter the major studios agreed not to touch. Read more
Published on November 4, 2011 by Charles D. Fulton
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre bio pic
This is the first film about legendary bank robber John Dillinger. It stars Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys with a supporting cast that includes Edmund Lowe, Elisha Cook Jr. Read more
Published on May 2, 2011 by Dr. James Gardner
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