A Movie A Day: DILLINGER (1945)
You talk too much, you use a gun too much and now you’re thinking too much!
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today we follow Elisha Cook Jr. over to the 1945 Gangster Noir DILLINGER, the film that introduced Lawrence Tierney to the world in the title role… or at least that’s what the poster says. We’ve already had an earlier movie featuring Tierney on this list, the Val Lewton produced flick THE GHOST SHIP from 1943. There are a few uncredited performances and smaller roles prior to this film, but I can see why the producers wanted to sell a big new star smashing onto the scene.
Tierney eats this role up. He’s stoney, mean-lookin’… definitely not someone to fuck with as a few decidedly unlucky bastards find out during the 70 minute runtime of this flick.
I’m sure most of you know the John Dillinger story by now… there have been a ton of movies made about the man. Prior to this film I had seen John Millius’ 1973 DILLINGER starring Warren Oates in the lead role.
Even if you don’t remember the details I’m sure most of you guys remember he was the one betrayed by his goil, wearing a red dress at the movie theater.
Directed by Max Nosseck and featuring some very pretty black and white noir photography by Jackson Rose the movie zips by. There is no drag. There can’t be, the damn thing’s barely over an hour long! And they cram as much of Dillinger’s life as they can into this time, starting with his first hasty not well thought out robbery of $7.20 that gets him picked up by the coppers and thrown in jail.
While there he ends up bunked with Edmund Lowe playing a mastermind robber named Specs. At first Dillinger puts up a tough guy routine, but then he learns just how revered Specs is and cozies up to him and his gang, including the great Elisha Cook Jr.
Dillinger has a shorter sentence than the others, so he promises he’ll come up with a plan to spring them when he’s out and low and behold he’s good to his word. Of course, it’s not long before he’s leading the group, taking it away from Specs. Specs was a little more cautious, but Dillinger is more brutal.
He goes out of his way to kill some motherfuckers in this movie. One of my absolute favorite moments is when he returns to the bar he was in at the beginning of the movie… he was told his credit was no good and insulted by the waiter, causing him to go out and haphazardly rob a little convenience store, which gets him nabbed.
So after a few dozen bloody robberies, Dillinger returns to this bar, orders beers, tips the waiter really well, asks him to sit… and then tortures him for a little bit, reminding the poor bastard of who he was. Just as it’s dawning on the nitwit, Tierney smashes his mug and jams it in the dude’s face!
It’s Hayes Code era, so you don’t see it, but even the implication is horrendous, sold completely by Tierney. I believe wholeheartedly that Tierney would stab some drip in the face with a broken mug of beer, no question.
The flick was nominated for best screenplay (Philip Yordan, who also wrote previous AMAD HOUDINI and is the front for tomorrow’s BATTLE OF THE BULGE) but lost to Richard Schweizer for MARIE-LOUISE.
Final Thoughts: This isn’t the best film in the Film Noir v.2 box set or even the best Lawrence Tierney film in the set (that’d be BORN TO KILL), but it’s a fast-paced, very entertaining thrillride of a film… God, if the movie wasn’t 63 years old you’d think I was gunning for a quote on the poster… But it’s true. Lawrence Tierney is outstanding (and frightening) as Dillinger and his supporting cast are all up to the task of keeping this one going full steam ahead. I had a lot of fun with this movie.
The schedule for the next few days is:
Sunday, September 28th: BATTLE OF THE BULGE (1965)
Monday, September 29th: DAISY KENYON (1947)
Tuesday, September 30th: LAURA (1944)
Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here!
I’ve added a couple more titles to the list of potential Horror Movie A Day titles and have even more on order.
Tomorrow we follow writer Philip Yordan some 20 years into the future where he’s credited with the screenplay of WW2 epic BATTLE OF THE BULGE. I say credited because his name is on there as a front for blacklisted writer Bernard Gordon. Looking forward to this one… has a helluva cast… Robert Ryan and Robert Shaw in the same movie? How could the camera record film with both of these guys on the screen at the same time? I would have figured the old timey equipment would have been overloaded with the sheer amount of awesome it was being asked to process…
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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Sept. 27, 2008, 10:04 p.m. CST
I did a double take when I saw that it was Lawrence Tierney as Dillinger. He was really good looking once.
Sept. 27, 2008, 10:19 p.m. CST
See "Devil Thumbs a Ride" if you want to see Lawrence Tierney at his worst (and by that I mean his best).
Sept. 28, 2008, 12:08 a.m. CST
you need to do more gangster noir flicks, forget all that other stuff. I'm gonna check this one out asap.
Sept. 28, 2008, 12:19 a.m. CST
I haven't seen this one in a bit, but I remember really liking it and wishing it had just a bit more run time, felt a bit too compact. <br><Br> I agree Michael Mann's take on it with J Depp should be intriguing.
Sept. 28, 2008, 12:29 a.m. CST
and he plans it out in advance, not on a day-to-day basis...
Sept. 28, 2008, 3:26 a.m. CST
at my house on 16mm.
Sept. 28, 2008, 7:45 a.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
Check the archives, he did a few about a month or two ago.
Sept. 28, 2008, 7:46 a.m. CST
by Grammaton Cleric Binks
He needs to rest up to catch nearly three hours of ass kicking in Battle of the Bulge.
Sept. 28, 2008, 9:57 a.m. CST
by Paul Bucciarelli
it's on the same shelf as the bucket that the Kentucky Fried Rat came in. What a doofus.
Sept. 28, 2008, 10:09 a.m. CST
It's a great early noir. Supposedly it heavily influenced Twin Peaks.
Sept. 28, 2008, 12:13 p.m. CST
he plays that security guard in the episode where bart steals the video game. the commentary track talks about what a mean sonavabitch tierney was. very amusing.
Sept. 28, 2008, 2:34 p.m. CST
Have I? If I did I have no memory of it. Those 16mm parties were a long, long time ago, though. It'd be cool to break out some 16 again. I have a few prints I haven't watched yet... a scope print of CONFESSIONS OF A POLICE CAPTAIN starring Franco Nero and Martin Balsam being the one I'm the most interested in...
Sept. 28, 2008, 5:07 p.m. CST
Sept. 28, 2008, 8:54 p.m. CST
I do enjoy his performance in Dillinger, but I think a lot of the time he's just playing a slightly meaner version of himself in real life. there are hundreds of stories of him drunkenly assaulting people, making ridiculously strange requests, threatening to stab Jerry Seinfeld...I mean seriously...<p>Nicholson's role in The Shining is entertaining, but it's not much of a stretch, is it? Same with Tierney, I think.
Sept. 28, 2008, 11:36 p.m. CST
by Red Dawn Don
Lawrence Tierney Was Mean On-Screen and Off-Screen. Go over to WIKI to read some of his antics, such as pulling a kitchen knife on Jerry Seinfeld. I never knew that actor SCOTT BRADY was his brother. I liked SB's acting years ago
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