DILLINGER (1945)

title: DILLINGER
year: 1945
cast: Lawrence Tierney, Anne Jeffries, Marc Lawrence, Elisha Cook, Edmund Lowe, Ralph Lewis, Eduardo Ciannelli, Constance Worth
rating: ****

This was obviously a way to cash in on a big name. At that time John Dillinger was a slain folk hero as much as a villain. It'd been ten years since his death and perhaps many people didn't remember the particularities of his story - or the producers didn't care. But this film noir starring Lawrence Tierney in the title role is a lot of fun anyway. After the stage is set - a young JD goes to jail for robbing a store for beer money - he and a group of crooks chat in prison about busting out and robbing banks. Eventually this happens, and the heists are terrific, one including smoke bombs on a rainy street. Tierney plays the stone-faced-thug so well that he never really got out of it. Even his "comeback" many decades later in "Reservoir Dogs" has his tough-as-nails character muttering the line "Dead as Dillinger", a nod to this classic that, although historically inaccurate, is a terrific ride where every scene has something going for it: almost like a bunch of really neat skits pieced together.

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