Michael Mann Public EnemiesMichael Mann is a man who obviously loves John Dillinger. He has passion for someone “so current and contemporary for his time” that he studied evasive techniques, employed the latest automatic weaponry and drove the fastest cars to be the very best in the short span of his notorious final days. Who “exploded out of prison and for thirteen months burned white hot, with no concept of the future, no end game.” He was struck by the irony of Dillinger’s final act ““ watching a movie where Clark Gable was essentially playing him “Dillinger watching Gable being Dillinger”, but not recognising the warning it contained.

Chicago is the other star of Public Enemies and Mann’s background there drew him to the Dillinger story. He remembers driving with his Father as a young boy:

“He pointed out The Biograph and said to me “˜that’s where Dillinger was shot down’, I said “˜who’s Dillinger?'”

Of Bale, who was his first choice to play G-man Melvin Purvis, he says:

“(Purvis) was a member of the landed gentry”¦a rigid young man with a duelling ethic who breaks his own code. (Christian) just dives into the deep end of a character”¦he used to do the accent and drive his daughter mad, he’d say “˜you’d better get used to it I’ll be talking like this for months!'”

He is quick to defend Dillinger and put his life into context when an audience member asks if the image of him was at all glamorised:

“166 banks were in Chicago at that time, 140 of them failed. Employment was at 25%”¦The parts that are real, are magical ““ Johnny shocked awake by gunfire in the same room, looking at the same ceiling. Other parts”¦he took seventeen guards hostage with a wooden gun, we had to tone that down it was too unbelievable.”

Above all, I was impressed by Michael’s commitment to the story and to maintaining its integrity despite the legendary status of its hero. Of Dillinger perhaps the truest thing he said was:

“He didn’t conform to the criminal stereotype”¦and he played on that.”

[gplayer href=”https://www.heyuguys.com/audio/public_enemies/mann_heyuguys_edit.mp3″] Interview with Michael Mann: [/gplayer]