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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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
I appeared on this show so I can knock it. So did a dozen or more other historians and authors, most of whom didn't even get their names in the credits, though their interview segments are the saving grace of the program. Bryan Burrough, Tony Stewart, and I were about the only ones listed in the credits but Bill Helmer, Ellen Poulsen, Tom Smusyn, Ron Morgan, John Neal Phillips and others, all knowledgeable crime historians, appeared on the program and contributed the positives here.
It's pretty average really, maybe one of the better of the typically bad crime documentaries that air on cable TV, but that's the best that can be said. The writing and the narration are superficial, inaccurate, and fictionalized. Much of the story is left out, including Pretty Boy Floyd and the Barker-Karpis Gang, even though the show opens with the Kansas City Massacre which is left unresolved. Silly and inaccurate reenactments make up the bulk of the show. You have a few seconds of interview snippets with Marvelle Feller, the one living eyewitness to the Barrow Gang battle at Dexfield Park, followed by a completely inaccurate reenactment of Bonnie and Clyde making their escape in a pickup. Would have been better to have used a few minutes of Marvelle's interview to tell how it really happened. But action visuals are fun and actors may be cheaper than '29 Plymouth autos.
Where they dug up their "firearms expert" I have no idea, unless he was a friend of the producer. Since when did Model '21A Thompson submachine guns have 30-shot stick mags? Those didn't come out until World War II. They took his word for it for the reenactments, of course.
There are some good insights and many good interview segments so it's not a total loss. But most of it is reenacted (cheaper to buy actors than old photos and newsreels) and none of the reenactments are accurate. It's almost an anti-documentary in that sense.
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