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Public Enemies (2009) Poster

Goofs

Errors in geography 

That the location of the horse race track is actually in California (not Hialeah in Miami) is indicated by the tall palm trees in the background, which are of the genus Washingtonia. Though sometimes planted in Florida, Washingtonia is native to the Mojave desert and the western Sonora desert of California and southwest Arizona. The tall palm typically planted in southern Florida is Roystonea regia, the Cuban royal palm. The conspicuous difference is that Washingtonia has palmate (fan) leaves, while Roystonea has pinnate leaves (like a comb, or fish bones).
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Anachronisms 

During the chase after Little Bohemia, Homer asks Baby Face Nelson where he got the car from, and he says he had gotten it from a "fed". The Federal Bureau of Investigations was created in 1935, after John Dillinger's death, and it was just the Bureau of Investigations before that, so there is no reason anyone would call its agents "feds".
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Filtered cigarettes were not around in the 1930s.
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While at the race track, the characters sit on molded green plastic seats which did not exist in the 1930s.
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In the film, J. Edgar Hoover is shown in front of a Senate subcommittee being excoriated by Senator McKellar for the Bureau's performance. This incident in fact took place in 1936, 2 years after John Dillinger's death.
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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."
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Though the song "Bye, Bye, Blackbird" was written in the 1920s and therefore existed during John Dillinger's lifetime, Diana Krall 's performance and the instrumental arrangement behind her are in the style of the 1950s.
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The Billie Holiday songs heard on the radio were not recorded until the late thirties, long after John Dillinger's death. She had recorded only two songs before the time of the film, Your Mother's Son-in-law and Riffin' the Scotch, neither of which are heard in it. (When Dillinger died in July 1934 Holiday was a little-known cabaret singer in New York, so it's unlikely a live show of hers would have been broadcast anywhere, let alone as far from her home base as Chicago.)
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Early in the film, soon after the Racine robbery, November 20, 1933, a radio announcer is heard referring to John Dillinger as Public Enemy No. 1. Dillinger wasn't named Public Enemy No. 1 until June 22, 1934, his 31st birthday.
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John Dillinger turns on an early Zenith table top radio and audio is immediately heard. Until the introduction of solid state technology in the 1960s, all tube radios took five or six seconds to warm up before audio was heard.
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As the gang leave the red train car, the car number seen on the outside of the car is in the Helvetica font, created in 1957.
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In many Dillinger close-ups, you can see, on the left earlobe, multiple piercings, which no 1933 American criminal would have had.
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In the first bank robbery, a noticeable FDIC sign is present. This would be correct for the FDIC was introduced in 1933, hence why Dillinger says to the citizen, "I'm not here for your money, I'm here for the bank's, put it away." The FDIC was enacted in 1933 but did not take effect until 1934.
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A modern Citroen can be seen parked in the background of one scene.
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The console radio Billie Frechette is listening to is a 1940 Philco.
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When Purvis is in the car outside Billie's apartment looking at the transcription of the phone call between Billie and Dillinger, the transcript is in the Times New Roman font and looks like a computer printout, rather than a typewritten page as it should have been in the 1930s.
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A modern day electrical transformer can be seen on a telephone pole in the reflection of the window of the hotel in Tucson, Arizona.
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In the main trailer for the film, the grill of the Dillinger getaway car is that of a 1936 Chevrolet. John Dillinger died in a gun battle in 1934. Obviously, the '36 models of Chevrolet were not in production until late 1935.
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The movie theater is showing a post-1934 "Looney Tunes" short: Porky Pig's on the title card and his first cartoon, I Haven't Got a Hat, wasn't released until after John Dillinger's death.
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Throughout the movie many buildings are seen with double paned tempered glass and aluminum window frames. Most notably the FBI planning meeting across the street from the Biograph takes place in front of a large storefront with two large panes forming a corner joint with no framing. All windows of the period were single pane.
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The bar at Little Bohemia where Baby Face Nelson does his James Cagney impression didn't exist in April of 1934. It was added on to the lodge in 1936, two years after John Dillinger's and Nelson's death.
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Just to the left of the sally port of the prison at the beginning, modern day electrical boxes can be seen on the ground.
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The race track (filmed at Santa Anita Park, California) has a synthetic Cushion Track surface which wasn't invented until the 1980s.
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While discussing a plan for a train heist, in the background is a Union Pacific locomotive number 844. This locomotive was not built and delivered to the Union Pacific until December 1944, 10 years after John Dillinger's death.
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Telephone numbers in 2L-5N format such as ST2-XXXX and ED4-XXXX shown on the line tags were not in use in Chicago until around 1948. Correct format for 1930's was STA XXXX or EDG XXXX.
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The radio broadcast says the USSR was fully accepted into the League of Nations in 1933. However, that didn't really happen until 1934.
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When Dillinger is driving away after Frechette is captured by the agents you can see out the window three parked modern cars along with a cordon keeping people back as he goes round the corner.
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In the room where the FBI agents suit up in preparation for catching Dillinger at 1148 Addison, a red, modern-looking exit sign is noticeable.
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The film features Benny Goodman's recording of Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton's song King Porter Stomp, which was made on July 1, 1935 - almost a year after John Dillinger's death on July 22, 1934.
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As Frechette and Dillinger drive away past the gray and brownstones in their Chicago neighborhood, a blue light from a color TV that is on can be seen in a garden apartment window.
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When Dillinger enters his room after checking into the Hotel Congress in Tucson, a Western Electric Model 302 desk telephone appears on the table near the window. This phone was not introduced by Western Electric until 1937, nearly three years after his death.
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The film opens in 1933 when Dillinger escapes the first time, there is a 1935 Plymouth PJ in several shots.
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Charles Winstead's arrival by train at Union Station is shown via an elaborate closeup of his polished shoe descending to the platform. The textured, button-like surface of the platform is a modern, bright-yellow plastic safety strip that was temporarily painted black for the film. However, the black finish was extensively scuffed in prior takes, and the bright yellow material is plainly showing through the paint.
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When Purvis talks to Hoover and requests the assignment of Agent Charles Winstead from Dallas to Chicago to pursue Dillinger, a modern Chicago El train can be seen moving on the tracks in the background.
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As Dillinger enters "Marker's Cigar Shop"" to speak to Gilbert, you can clearly see the bottom half of a 21st-century Miller Lite beer billboard above O'Hagan's Irish Pub across the street.
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In the scene of the first break out the warden opens the safe to the prison armory. You can see toward the ceiling a porcelain light fixture with a grounded, three pin, plug socket on the side of it. Grounded receptacles did not come into common use until the 1960s.
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When Dillinger is in the police station with officers listening to a baseball game on the radio, the game is the Chicago Cubs vs. NY Yankees. Since those teams only played in the World Series in late Sep to early Oct 1932 and Dillinger was in prison from 1924 until being paroled in May 1933, there is no way it could be the Cubs vs. Yankees on the radio. There was no interleague play back then except for the World Series and they never broadcast spring training games on the radio way back then.
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In the film, the three workers that come out of Little Bohemia Lodge get into a 1932 Chevy 4-door. It actually should be a 1933 Chevy coupe. The car the gang used for the Racine robbery in the film (with the blonde hostage) was a 1935 Buick 90. It should actually be a 1933 Buick 90.
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During a conference, the authorities review a transcript of a wire-tapped telephone conversation in which Dillinger was a participant. Shown on the screen, the transcript is in neat, proportional-spaced type, like a computer printout. This anticipates the invention of computers with proportional-spacing printers by about 50 years. Any such transcript would have been typed on a manual typewriter, since even electric typewriters had not been invented in 1933.
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When Dillinger is in the police station, the baseball game on the radio is actually the September 20, 1934 game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers from Navin Field in Detroit and announced by Ty Tyson. It's the oldest complete Major League Baseball game broadcast known to exist. The game is part of The Miley Collection which was added to the Library of Congress in 2011.
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In the 2nd bank robbery scene, an FDIC placard can be seen next to a teller's window. This modern placard was put into use decades after the film takes place. The placard from the '30s is a round oval, whereas the movie uses a rectangle.
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The black judicial robe worn by Judge Murray in the courtroom scene has a sheen, stitching, and drape characteristic of a thinner synthetic material which modern-day robes are made of. Judicial robes of the 1930s would have been made of a much heavier wool or cotton fabric.
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The dashboard on Dillinger's car has modern fuel and temperature gauges, aftermarket replacements or add-ons with different bezels from the other dials. The speedometer, clock, etc. have a '30s style typeface; the typeface on the fuel and temperature gauges are of a modern style that would not have existed in the 1930s.
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One of the movies on the theater marquee is San Francisco which wasn't released until 2 years after John Dillinger's death.
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When breaking out go jail he gets down the stairs with the fake pistol to the guard's neck, there is a push button phone on the wall next to the door.
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Some shots (e.g. the Hotel Congress scenes) clearly show a popcorn (sprayed) ceiling in the hallway; however, popcorn ceilings were not developed or widely used until the 1950s.
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When Dillinger visits the Chicago mob's racing wire room, there is a separate board on the wall for posting results from Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles. The visit took place in February 1934, according to the judge who had just set Dillinger's trial date; Santa Anita did not open until Christmas Day 1934.
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Character error 

During the interrogation scene Marion Cotillard reverts to using a French accent, despite the fact that she plays an American. Though her character, like the real-life Evelyn Frechette, is of partially French parentage, neither she nor either of her parents had ever lived in France at any point and the stress couldn't cause her to revert to a French accent, since there's no chance she'd ever spoken with one.
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In this, and in all other movies about John Dillinger, his name is pronounced with a soft "g." The real Dillinger, proud of his German ancestry, always pronounced the name with a hard "g" and insisted that everyone around him do so as well.
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After the FBI Agents arrest and interrogate Billie, Agent Reinecke asks the secretary where Agent Purvis is, and refers to the secretary as Miss Roberts; after they return from searching the false apartment, Agent Purvis stops Agent Reinecke from beating Billie anymore and after Agent Purvis carries Billie out into the hall he refers to the secretary as Miss Rogers.
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The transcription of the phone conversation between Billie and Dillinger has mixed remarks. Dillinger's words "I can't talk long" are referred to Billie, "I heard it on the radio" she said is attributed to Dillinger and so on.
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Continuity 

While getting ready to leave for the Biograph Theatre, Dillinger checks his pocket watch. The time on the watch says 5:00. After a cut to a closer shot about a second later his watch says 6:30.
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When the shootout in Wisconsin begins it is dark out and near closing time at the bar. When Dillinger and Red are running through the woods it appears to be sunrise. However, in the next scene (car chase) it is nighttime again.
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When John Dillinger escapes from the jail the second time and he is driving the sheriff's car he is sitting at a red light. To his right there are 3 armed military soldiers. In the following bird's eye view it shows no one standing there. Finally, when the shot returns to Dillinger the 3 soldiers are still standing there.
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During Dillinger's phone conversation to Frechette after his second escape, he ends with "I love you." In a following scene, the transcript of that conversation shows him ending with "I love you, Baby. Now I gotta get off."
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In the airplane scene, looking out of the window from the interior shot it seems that the plane is ascending. When we see the exterior shot of the plane it is descending.
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When Billie is preparing to leave the apartment to meet John in the alley so they can leave town, her beaded necklace is hanging outside of her sweater. The next shot of Billie is as she leaves the apartment, and the necklace is tucked inside her sweater.
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When Billie and John start dancing, she has a hand on his right shoulder, in the next shot she instantly has a hand on his left instead, where it remains for the rest of the dance.
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Before the beginning of the gun battle at the Little Bohemia lodge, Purvis is seen armed with a Thompson Sub-Machine Gun with a 50-round drum magazine. When he opens fire on the innocent men in the car, the weapon is still loaded with the drum. However, when the gangsters start shooting back from the lodge, Purvis is seen ejecting a 20-round stick magazine before reloading.
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During the prison escape with the fake pistol, one prison guard is seen falling down some steps, his jacket in one piece. When he is man-handled by Dillinger, his jacket is torn completely down the back. When Dillinger pushes him to the next door his jacket is in one piece again.
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Baum is playing the recording of Dillinger and Berman's "phone call conversation" to Purvis. The close-up shows an acetate recorder with the disc rotating anti-clockwise and acetate swarf on the disc as the cutting head is lowered. There is a clamp or weight on the disc spindle. The wider shot shows the disc rotating clockwise with a tone arm tracking it and no sign of the cutting head, the spindle clamp or the swarf. The close-up is clearly of the recording being made (which supposedly happened 27 minutes earlier), but played backwards.
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Crew or equipment visible 

When Hoover presents the medals to the junior agents, the Steadicam operator's shadow is clearly visible at the bottom of the frame.
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When John takes Billie to the inn where she gets caught, as she crosses the street to get to the inn, you can clearly see the filming crew in the windows of a passing car.
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(at around 1 minute) When Dillinger is being driven out of the town having broken out of custody, a reflection of the cameraman can be seen in the glasses of the driver.
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Errors in geography 

When Dillinger escapes from the Indiana prison the soldiers that are guarding the prison are wearing the shoulder insignia (Gold Cross on Black Background) of the 33d Infantry Division, Illinois Army National Guard.
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The film depicts John Dillinger and Frechette arriving in Tucson and checking in at the Congress Hotel and then later being arrested in their room while Billie is in the tub (Marion Cotillard appears to be wearing a body suit). Gang members Charles Makley and Russell Clark had actually rented the room at the hotel, then were forced to leave due to a fire. The pair rented a house on North Second Street, the house at which Dillinger and Frechette were subsequently arrested at.
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In the opening sequence, John Dillinger appears at the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City and helps his pals in the escape. Dillinger was actually in the Montgomery County Jail in Dayton, Ohio, the day the escape occurred and transferred to Lima the following day.
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Factual errors 

There's no explanation for Agent Harold Reinecke's bizarre behavior at the Biograph as depicted in the film, especially considering he wasn't actually present among the 20-plus agents/cops waiting outside the theater for John Dillinger that night.
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In opening scene at prison, the sally port inside door is opened before the outside gate is closed. This is never done as it defeats the purpose of a sally port. Also, when the alarm is sounded, the outside gate remains open - procedure would dictate the gates be immediately "frozen" locked.
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John Dillinger arrived at Midway Airport, Chicago, at six p.m. January 30, 1934, after a grueling plane trip that started from Tucson. In the film, it's raining quite heavily upon his arrival at Midway. There was no precipitation at all that evening in Chicago. This is confirmed by the old newsreels.
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The film depicts the FBI going after John Dillinger before his escape from the Crown Point, Indiana jail. In reality, they couldn't have pursued him because until that escape Dillinger had never committed a federal crime and therefore the FBI lacked jurisdiction over him. When he escaped from Crown Point he drove his stolen car over the state line from Indiana to Illinois - thereby committing his first federal offense and giving the FBI the pretext it needed to go after him.
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In the film, John Dillinger shown being wounded during the gang's holdup of the Security National Bank of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on March 6, 1934. In reality, he received a shoulder wound exactly one week later during the First National Bank of Mason City heist.
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Gang member John Hamilton, referred to as "Three Finger Jack" by the authorities, was missing two fingers on his right hand, and then lost yet a third finger of the same hand during the East Chicago bank job in January of '34. CGI wasn't employed for this detail in the film. Thus, the actor playing Hamilton has all of his digits.
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Alvin Carpis is shown in the film recommending attorney Louis Piquett to John Dillinger while in a nightclub. Crown Point trusty Sam Cahoon passed one of Piquett's business cards to Dillinger while the famed outlaw was being jailed at Crown Point. The card getting into Cahoon's hands first was arranged by the East Chicago mob.
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Dillinger is seen in the film opening his pocket watch, looking at Billie Frechette's photo inside, then closing the watch and bringing it with him to the Biograph. The watch actually contained a photograph of Polly Hamilton.
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In the Crown Point jailbreak sequence, John Dillinger is seen entering the gun safe and taking a .38 Colt Police Positive, a Thompson submachine gun, and a Remington Model 8 rifle. Dillinger actually left the jail with a .45 and two Thompsons, one for him and one for Herbert Youngblood, the accused murderer at the jail who escaped with Dillinger.
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The film portrays John Dillinger driving away from the Crown Point jail in Sheriff Holley's Ford V8. Deputy Sheriff Ernest Blunk was the actual driver in the escape. Dillinger got behind the wheel only after Blunk and Saager were set free outside of Peotone, Illinois.
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John Dillinger was left handed, however, in the movie he is shown right handed - including usage of guns.
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Milwaukee streetcars were in orange and cream colors, not green as seen in the film.
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In the street scenes in which streetcar tracks are present, there are no suspended overhead wires. The overhead provided electricity to power the cars.
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On 22 July 1934, Dillinger asks the cops in the police station what the score of the baseball game is. They say, 3-2 in the top of the seventh. In fact, the Cubs were up 9-0 in the game.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

The Thompson sub-machine guns in the movie use period-correct 20 round 'stick' magazines and 50-round 'drum' magazines. Despite appearances resulting from some quick shots and deceptive angles, no 30-round World War 2 issued magazines appear, as none were procured by the film armorers.
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Revealing mistakes 

In some close-up shots of his hands, Johnny Depp's tattoos on his fingers are visible.
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A number of scenes depict newsreel cameramen operating hand cranked 'pancake' Akeley motion picture cameras that would have been used for recording silent film footage only. The actors are cranking these cameras way slower than would have been normal in such 'news' situations and would only have cranked in this fashion to record high-speed, fast-paced special effects footage.
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When driving to the Little Bohemia Lodge, we are shown snow on the ground. Later that evening, we hear crickets outside.
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During the shootout after a bank robbery at the beginning of the movie, Dillinger fires a machine gun right by the hostage bank manager's head, but the manager doesn't even flinch.
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Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Anachronisms 

When Agent Charles Winstead leans over to hear Dillinger's last words, the contact lens on his right eye is visible. Contact lenses weren't widely available until the 1950s.
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Crew or equipment visible 

Towards the end of the movie, when the camera is zooming out of the city scene (where Dillinger's body lies) a boom lift can be seen.
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Factual errors 

Pretty Boy Floyd, killed in the beginning of the movie by Melvin Purvis, was actually killed on October 22, 1934, exactly 3 months after John Dillinger died.
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Factual errors 

In the film, Baby Face Nelson was killed in a shootout with agents in Wisconsin after the robbery of the Security National Bank at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In fact, he was killed due to injuries suffered in a shootout with FBI agents in "The Battle Of Barrington" in a northwest suburb of Chicago on November 27, 1934, four months after Dillenger was killed.
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Factual errors 

Agent Melvin Purvis and his men hunt down Baby Face Nelson, Van Meter, and a third man in a car chase. This ends with all three gangsters being shot dead. However, Van Meter & Nelson are actually killed after John Dillinger on separate occasions. Baby Face Nelson even took over as public enemy #1 upon Dillinger's death.
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Factual errors 

In the opening sequence, Walter Dietrich is shown being killed in the Michigan City breakout on September 26, 1933. Dietrich was actually captured on January 6, 1934, and returned to the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City. Massive bloodshed is shown in the Michigan City sequence, when in fact only one man, a clerk, was wounded. Furthermore, John Dillinger was killed before Dietrich's death.
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Factual errors 

Outside the Biograph Theatre, the real John Dillinger pulled a gun and tried to get away after he had recognized Special Agent Melvin Purvis standing aside. Three agents opened fire, five shots were fired, out of which three hit the gangster. Bystanders were injured by bullets and debris. In the movie, Dillinger strolls away from the theater with the two women and is being shot in the head from behind.
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Factual errors 

During the chasing down and shooting of Pretty Boy Floyd, near the film's beginning, the actions depicted in the movie mirror the FBI's account of the incident - that he was shot at long distance by a rifleman and eventually died there in the grove. Much controversy surrounds the shooting however, with majority of the accounts backing up the testimony of the local police force on hand (though the FBI claims the only local was the retired police officer, and former WWI sharpshooter who was enlisted specifically for this assignment.) In their accounting, Floyd was felled by the sharpshooter, but upon approaching the still alive gunman, Purvis shot him several times, point blank, with his pistol. Further, John Dillinger was long-dead before Floyd was killed.
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Factual errors 

In the film, Melvin Purvis kills Pretty Boy Floyd after chasing him for a while through woods and an orchard. In real life, Floyd was killed outside of a farmhouse after exiting a car, and not by Purvis.
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Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

In the climax Ana is wearing a white top and orange skirt. Although remembered in legend as having worn a red dress, in actuality Anna Sage did wear orange on the night of John Dillinger's death. The lights from the theater made her attire appear red, which gave her the nickname "lady in red".
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Revealing mistakes 

In close up shots of Channing Tatum (Pretty Boy Floyd) lying in the orchard, the lace front of his wig and what appears to be the glue used to secure it are clearly visible. Floyd was not a blond either.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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