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Public Enemies (2009)

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The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.

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1 win & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Michael Vieau ...
John Kishline ...
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Carol Slayman
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John Scherp ...

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Storyline

This is the story of the last few years of the notorious bank robber John Dillinger. He loved what he did and could imagine little else that would make him happier. Living openly in 1930s Chicago, he had the run of the city with little fear of reprisals from the authorities. It's there that he meets Billie Frechette with whom he falls deeply in love. In parallel we meet Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who would eventually track Dillinger down. The FBI was is in its early days and Director J. Edgar Hoover was keen to promote the clean cut image that so dominated the organization through his lifetime. Purvis realizes that if he is going to get Dillinger, he will have to use street tactics and imports appropriate men with police training. Dillinger is eventually betrayed by an acquaintance who tells the authorities just where to find him on a given night. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for gangster violence and some language | See all certifications »

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

1 July 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Enemigos públicos  »

Box Office

Budget:

$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$25,271,675 (USA) (3 July 2009)

Gross:

$97,030,725 (USA) (28 August 2009)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It's true that John Dillinger enjoyed taking photographs of police officers when the opportunity presented itself, and even late in his career, he would often attend Cubs games, and frequent bars in Chicago, but he probably didn't enter the offices of the Dillinger Squad, as depicted in the film. Dillinger also tended to brag about his exploits. As with many other events in his life, he would have surely related such a fantastic thing to his family, his lawyer, or his lawyer's investigator, Art O'Leary, a man Dillinger often confided in. However, according to Bryan Burrough's book, he did enter the same building as the Chicago Police Department on a few occasions, and he did accompany Polly Hamilton into the building to get her waitress' license. See more »

Goofs

When Nelson is drunk at the bar, he asks the other people there if they want to hear his James Cagney impersonations, saying Cagney's famous line from Angels with Dirty Faces: "Whaddya hear, whaddya say." See more »

Quotes

[Hoover is at a Senate Appropriation Committee hearing]
Senator Kenneth McKellar: Why do we need this?
J. Edgar Hoover: Because criminals flee in fast automobiles across state lines, thereby defeating local jurisdiction because there is no federal police force to stop them.
Senator Kenneth McKellar: By my tally, your bureau wants to spend more taxpayer's dollars catching crooks, than what the crooks you catch stole in the first place.
J. Edgar Hoover: Well that's ridiculous. The Bureau has apprehended kidnappers and bank robbers who have stolen up to and in excess of...
Senator Kenneth McKellar: Really?
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title of the movie is not shown until the end credits. See more »


Soundtracks

Nasty Letter
(2002)
Written and Performed by Otis Taylor
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Well-Made Cinematically, But Shallow
3 July 2009 | by (Louisiana) – See all my reviews

Who was John Dillinger? We all know he was a flamboyant criminal who robbed banks, but who WAS he? The question of who Dillinger WAS is far more interesting than the question of what Dillinger DID, but this film, sadly, chose only to concentrate seriously on the latter and gave up almost immediately on the former.

This film goes out of its way--with a poor grasp of history's time-line, by the way--to show us what Dillinger did and who he hung around with, but it does next to nothing to explore who Dillinger was as a person or even as a criminal. It hints that Dillinger might be a passionate lover and loyal friend, but shows us little evidence aside from a few thrown-together seduction scenes (which make his girlfriend/heroine look like a dim-witted pushover) and an awkward love scene.

Even Dillinger's foil, Melvin Purvis, is a mystery in Mann's hands. Did he care about justice at all, or was he just a fascist on a personal crusade? Was he competent in the least or was he just a bumbling idiot? Squinty-eyed stares can only convey so much, after all.

Michael Mann seems to be in a terrible hurry to tell this story, as he is stuck between the rock of having to relate a relatively complete "crime-ography" of a notorious American gangster and the hard place of keeping the movie shorter than 2 1/2 hours.

As a result, a beautifully shot and edited movie that had a lot of promise ends up little more than a dumb, shoot-'em-up action movie wearing the fedora of "historical romance." Good for a date, but not a serious film.

Grade: C+. Things to look for: Mann's ham-handed and laughably obvious political commentary on the use of torture about 2/3 of the way through the movie; psychotically trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson well-played by Stephen Graham; cool old products (Zenth radio); great fashion sense.


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