John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd... These names have become so iconic, it's easy to forget that they were some of America's most notorious criminals who...
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July 22, 1934 - outside Chicago's Biograph Theater, a barrage of FBI bullets brings down John Dillinger. As the body of Public Enemy Number one crumbles to the ground, one of the strangest,... See full summary »
F. Murray Abraham,
John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd... These names have become so iconic, it's easy to forget that they were some of America's most notorious criminals who went on a historic crime spree that began and ended in just 18 months. Written by
A Period In American History In Which Crooks Were Celebrities
Halfway through 1933 to the end of 1934 marked the worst crime wave in the history of the United States, according to the writers of this country. One thing that is indisputable: it produced many of the country's most famous criminals, names that we all know today: some 75 years later.
This two-hour TV program, aired on the History Channel, highlights the following criminals: John Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly and Baby Face Nelson. All of them became big-time "celebrities" during this short period. In addition to the profiles of the above, it highlights the rise of the FBI from a totally useless clerk-oriented group into a nationwide crime-fighting until that slowly learned to get its act together.
The FBI, however, and most police, were way behind the criminals in 1933 who were far better armed, had better vehicles and seemed almost unstoppable, able to commit any crime they attempted. Many of the crimes by the above participants involved robbing banks.
This program consistently remarks how the general populace actually rooted the gangsters because they were so disgusted with how banks were not being helpful but actually taking away their farms. (Almost all of the crime spree - with the exception of big-city Chicago - was in rural Midwestern America.) We learn that some of these hoods, like Dillinger (the most famous gangster of them all), Clyde Barrow and others were made into much worse hardened criminals because of their experience in jail. Dillinger, Bonnie & Clyde and George "Babyface" Nelson, all specialized in bank robberies while George Barnes, a.k.a. Machine Gun Kelly, went into kidnapping.
The show was interesting because of the many facts in presented and the mixture of re-enactment scenes and real-life old footage of these people and vrious towns. Boy, that was sad era in American history with poverty, drought, dust storms, bank foreclosures, bread lines, on and on.....an era ripe for crime, especially with law enforcement unprepared and hindered by state lines and how far they could go to catch these thieves.
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