This preview appeared in the May issue of Cue Entertainment where there wasn’t room to mention that the music in “Public Enemies” is by the great Oscar-winning composer Elliot Goldenthal (“Frida”), who also scored Michael Mann‘s 1995 crime picture “Heat”.
By Ray Bennett
“How often,” asks Johnny Depp, “do you get to stand on the running board of a 1932 Buick blasting a 50-round clip from Tommy Gun?” The answer, of course, was while filming director Michael Mann’s latest gangster saga “Public Enemies”, due July 1 from Universal.
Depp plays John Dillinger, the most notorious of the many glamorised American hoodlums of the 1930s in a screen version of “Barbarians at the Gate” author Bryan Burrough’s 2005 book “Public Enemies: American’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI”.
That very busy British actor Christian Bale plays celebrated G-Man Melvin Purvis, who was challenged to bring in Dillinger by J. Edgar Hoover (a bulky Billy Crudup) to further his ambitions to set up the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
French Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard co-stars as Dillinger’s main squeeze, Billy Frechette, with Channing Tatum as fellow outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd and British actor Stephen Graham as Baby Face Nelson.
Mann, whose crime pictures have included huge hits such as “Heat” (1995), “Collateral” (2004) and “Miami Vice” (2006), shot “Public Enemies” on location because, he says, “when your hand touches the same doorknob Dillinger’s did, it starts to talk to you.”
Mann also found a packed suitcase preserved from the time, and Depp says, “All of the dress shirts were still folded perfectly. It was a real insight into the guy. Because everything was ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
The bank-robber was hailed in his heyday by many folk in the Great Depression who saw the banks as their enemy. And even Depp admits to being caught up by the romantic view taken at the time.
“Some people might disagree,” the actor says, “but I think he was a real-life Robin Hood. I mean, the guy wasn’t completely altruistic, but he went out of his way not to kill anybody.
“He definitely gave a lot of that money away. I love the guy.”