Lawrence Tierney becomes a star in vintage crime drama
Dave | Tennessee United States | 08/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Lawrence Tierney Rules!!!
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 07/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
Fast-Moving, With A Real Thug Playing A Famous Thug!
Craig Connell | Lockport, NY USA | 04/24/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
A Little Picture That Could
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 07/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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. The DVD includes a serviceable audio commentary by John Milius, director of the 1973 "Dillinger"; his sometimes meandering remarks are intercut with old excerpts of an interview with screenwriter Yordan. The Original Theatrical Trailer is also included ... see if you don't agree that the "Time" magazine quote at the trailer's end ("DILLINGER reached unmatched heights of daredevil ruthlessness!") refers to the actual man rather than the magazine's review of this little diamond in the rough.