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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.

Director:

Michael Mann

Writers:

Ronan Bennett (screenplay), Michael Mann (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
2,210 ( 730)
1 win & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Bale ... Melvin Purvis
Christian Stolte ... Charles Makley
Jason Clarke ... 'Red' Hamilton
Johnny Depp ... John Dillinger
Stephen Graham ... Baby Face Nelson
David Wenham ... Harry 'Pete' Pierpont
John Judd ... Turnkey
Stephen Dorff ... Homer Van Meter
Michael Vieau Michael Vieau ... Ed Shouse
John Kishline John Kishline ... Guard Dainard
Carey Mulligan ... Carol Slayman
James Russo ... Walter Dietrich
Giovanni Ribisi ... Alvin Karpis
Wesley Walker ... Jim Leslie
John Scherp John Scherp ... Earl Adams
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Storyline

The difficult 1930s is a time of robbers who knock over banks and other rich targets with alarming frequency. Of them, none is more notorious than John Dillinger, whose gang plies its trade with cunning efficiency against big businesses while leaving ordinary citizens alone. As Dillinger becomes a folk hero, FBI head J. Edger Hoover is determined to stop his ilk by assigning ace agent Melvin Purvis to hunt down Dillinger. As Purvis struggles with the manhunt's realities, Dillinger himself faces an ominous future with the loss of friends, dwindling options and a changing world of organized crime with no room for him. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

America's Most Wanted

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Japan

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 July 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Public Enemies See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$25,271,675, 5 July 2009

Gross USA:

$97,104,620

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$214,104,620
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a Senate hearing scene, when asked how many people he has arrested personally, J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) sheepishly admits "I have never arrested anybody." In real life, this was a point of embarrassment to Hoover, and he decided to correct it. On May 1, 1936, FBI agents tracked down Alvin Carpis (played by Giovanni Ribisi in the film) in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hoover flew to New Orleans, and personally arrested Karpis as he sat in his car outside of his hideout. News reports of the arrest made Hoover a national hero, and solidified his image as a powerful law enforcement officer. However, Karpis later claimed that Hoover's involvement in his arrest was not quite so heroic. Supposedly, Hoover waited in a nearby FBI car while federal agents surrounded Karpis at gunpoint. Then Hoover walked over to Karpis and told him he was under arrest. When Hoover told the FBI agents "Put the cuffs on him, boys" the FBI men realized they hadn't brought any handcuffs, and Karpis' hands had to be secured using an agent's necktie. See more »

Goofs

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. See more »

Quotes

John Dillinger: [in his jail cell] Well, here's the man who killed Pretty Boy Floyd. Damn good thing he was pretty, 'cause he sure wasn't Whiz Kid Floyd. Tell me something, Mr. Purvis. That fellow, the one who got killed at the Sherone Apartments - the newspaper said you found him alive. It's the eyes, ain't it? They look at you right before they go. And then they just drift away into nothing. That'll keep you up nights.
Melvin Purvis: And what keeps you up nights, Mr. Dillinger?
John Dillinger: Coffee. You act like a confident man, Mr. ...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in The Chase Australia: Episode #2.68 (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Chicago Shake
(2009)
Written by Don Nelson, Harry Garfield, Kevin Kaska, Bruce Fowler (as Bruce L. Fowler)
Performed by The Bruce Fowler Big Band
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

John Dillinger- Public Enemy #1
1 July 2009 | by Billy_CostiganSee all my reviews

The year is 1933, it's the Great Depression. A time for the desperate to do the unthinkable. Crime was on the rise and people were suffering. For John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) it was a time of infinite possibilities and opportunities. To combat the sharp incline in rampant criminal activity, J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) forms the FBI, led by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). Together they target Dillinger as public enemy number one. Relying on new methods of intelligence gathering (such as tracking the purchase location of a coat or recording phone conversations), the firepower of trained gunmen, and his own relentless nature, Purvis gets closer and closer to Dillinger and company.

"I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars... and you. What else do you need to know?" - John Dillinger. Johnny Depp IS John Dillinger. He's perfect for the role. The cool, confident and almost cocky nature of the character is really portrayed on screen (such as bragging to reporters about his bank jobs and teasing Purvis and agents who are after him). It's a look of how a man lived and succeeded in a hard time. Dillinger was a man that lived in the moment as only a man in the depression could. From the worlds on John Dillinger, "I'm to busy having fun today to even think about tomorrow." Who knows what tomorrow might bring? Bale also succeeds in his role and is a solid counterpart against Depp. It works well having two top, well known actors opposing each other on screen.

The film is directed by Michael Mann who brought us such films as Heat, The Insider, and Collateral and he adds another good film to his resume with this one. The action sequences, bank heists, and shootouts in this film are probably the biggest highlights. After all, this is from the same guy who gave us one of the most famous and arguably the best shootout of all time in Heat. The sequences are cool, slick, and gritty. Excellence at it's best. (I have to throw in a note of praise for the superb shootout at the Little Bohemia lodge, which was an extremely impressive scene)

The cat and mouse aspect makes it intriguing, but I think more could have been added to it. It just feels as if something was missing. Much of the film focuses on the love story between Dillinger and Billie Frechette (Marion Cottillard) It's also interesting to see the other gangsters of this time and how they relate to Dillinger and the criminal world.

Much has been made of Public Enemies being filmed on HD video, mostly complaints. I must say that at times, the picture looked amazing. The night sequences, especially looked beautifully slick and realistic. I loved the cinematography here. The cars, headlights, street lights, and everything looked fantastic. Other times, it doesn't look as good. It just felt as if something didn't look right. I'm not sure what to think about this.

One problem I had with this film would have to be the lack of character depth in many of the characters. At times, it seems as if we are expected to know and understand the characters before going to see the film because it is a real life story. But as a film, it could have developed the characters more to help us (and those who know nothing about Dillinger, his life, or Purvis and the FBI) understand them better. Another problem was some of the historical inaccuracies. Many things portrayed in the film, do not happen as they did in real life. Many sequences are just out of order. I know the filmmakers had to know about this and just tried to work it in as best as they could. It's not a documentary, it's a movie.

I really enjoyed Public Enemies. It's a solid crime drama and a good summer film. I understand expectations were through the roof, but that's a little hard to ask for. It's a really good film, but not quite a great one... The action is fun, the story is interesting. Maybe instead of being a very good film, it could have became a really great film if more was put into the characters? I'm not sure. It just felt as if something were missing. But who can knock a film for still being good?


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