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Credits and
production data
John Milius wrote "Dillinger" as an original screenplay. It was his first directorial feature.
Produced by Sam Arkoff, for American International in 1973.
Shot in Oklahoma locales such as Enid, Norton, Oklahoma City, Ardmore, Hamilton.
Running Time: 1 hr 47 mins.
Cast: Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Michelle Phillips, Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Dreyfuss, Cloris Leachman


Technical note about the images: The frames were captured from the DVD. The black lines top and bottom are added to conform the original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio to DVD's 16:9. No original visual information is lost. Images are watermarked. No copies may be made or used without consent of this site's webmaster and any use must include a link to this site.


Frames are selected on the basis of key story elements and lighting that illustrates Jules Brenner's work.


Jules Brenner appears in a cameo role as Wilbur Underhill, "The Tri-State Terror," one of the early Purvis take-downs.


The film was released on DVD by MGM in 2002. (Ordering link below)
All images are the work of the website author and are copyright MGM Home Entertainment Inc.

Frames from the movie

Cinematographer: Jules Brenner
Filmography on IMDB

This is your lucky day! A vow is made by Purvis, of the FBI (Ben Johnson) I'll smoke one cigar over each of those men's dead bodies (Wilbur Underhill, the 'Tri-state Terror') John Dillinger (Warren Oates) meets... ... Billie Frechette, his one true love (Michelle Phillips) He sets the ground rules He furthers the ground rules She has a few rules of her own Purvis moves in on... Wilbur Underhill, smoked Billie's leaving Well I ain't telling Johnny About to make a fateful withdrawal It don't go too good This work is a blast This grave isn't marked Purvis goes to work and... ... and smokes a few more guys and cigars The gang, feelin' good, out in the open... But, being watched... being identified Vacation's over for John Baby Face Nelson, taking no orders (Richard Dreyfuss Pretty Boy Floyd, a good shot (Steve Kanaly The woman in red (Cloris Leachman Headlines


"This was a great film to work on for a lot of reasons, starting with the experience of working for John Milius. He has always been a brilliant and naturally gifted writer, and this was his first effort as director. John deals in images that he visualizes in his mind's eye and I was, as his cinematographer, his instrument to realize them.

From the get go, John expressed his vision of the film as the conveyance of the myth of Dillinger. As is typical of a Milius hero, Dillinger was a larger than life individual who lived his life according to his own instinctive drive and carved out a full chapter in the annals of legend. The visual elements, the colors, compositions and photographic concept of the film was to further the idea of doing a "romance" of a historical figure.

I don't believe I've ever worked for any director, before or since, with whom I felt a greater collaborative kinship than I did with John Milius. The photographic paths I was taking at his inspiration were closely allied with my own visual aethetics.

One "effect" or style of photography that I employed was to control, through filtration and lab manipulation, the Kelvin responses of the film medium. My objective was to exploit a range of colors that were at once realistic and surrealistic. It created a picture that wasn't exactly what the mind and brain might render but, rather a "stretched out" palette of color. Not realistic, but I think it acted subliminally to further the romance concept.

Some writers have criticized the film for its lack of faithfulness with the known facts, as though the film were intended as a documentary and it somehow fell short. Some call it "over-romanticized", failing to perceive the intentions and the style while so many of its viewers "got it" and went with it (see Maltin's review, below). While John had all the facts, known and surmised, his take on the story was, perhaps, to suggest why an audacious bank robber could capture the imagination of the public while his hand was in their pockets.

It's no error of history that a myth built up around Dillinger, who was killed at the mere age of 31 years.

                                                                               ~~ Jules Brenner

Reviews:
"This is one of the fastest moving movies you're likely to ever see. Warren Oates was the only man to play the part of John Dillinger (he even looks like him). When Harry Dean Stanton says "things aren't workin' out for me today", you gotta laugh. Whether it's romanticized or not, who cares. It's a fun movie to watch and if you like to see lots of spent brass flyin', you'll love it. My only 2 regrets are that it's not on DVD and that it's recorded in the LP mode on the VHS." (Ed. note: no longer true) (Emmett, USA)

"Certain moments from movies stick in your head. Like Warren Oates mustering for roll call as a private security guard in Chandler. Strother Martin saying, "I'll get it, Liberty," and being kicked by John Wayne in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Slim Pickens riding Marlon Brando in One-Eyed Jacks. M. Emmet Walsh, handcuffed high up on the chain-link fence beside the free way, his pants pulled down, in Straight Time.
"One of those images for me is Harry Dean Stanton in a raccoon skin coat, being shot by farmers in Dillinger". (Jeff Potter, Out Your Backdoor)

"The perfectly photographed locations add to the character's (and the film's) essence." (The IMDB)

"Milius and cinematographer Jules Brenner keep things visually dynamic throughout. There are no real signs of penny pinching, though one can be sure that, given that this was produced by AIP, the production had little to work with. Period detail is strong without being too fussy, and the various action set-pieces are done with tremendous flair." (Troy Howarth, Eccentric Cinema)

About the DVD (2002):
"Dillinger" is not a particularly well-known movie, but it stands up well against other 1970s movies that explored the 1930s (Paper Moon, Bonnie & Clyde). Warren Oates stars as the notorious bank robber, John Dillinger. Oates is a great character actor and its terrific to see him in a starring role. Why he did not become a bigger star is a mystery. The movie does a great job capturing the barren depression-era Midwest. Real-life news reels are mixed in with the action to help make it more authentic.
The supporting cast is also fantastic. Harry Dean Stanton is quite funny and Steve Kanaly (later a star of "Dallas") has one of his best movie roles as Pretty Boy Floyd. This is probably the best movie that director John Milius has made (Ed. note: the cinematographer agrees!) (Milius later made "Conan the Barbarian" and "Red Dawn"). The movie is fast-paced and fun. What it lacks in historic accuracy it more than makes up for with non-stop action. The DVD doesn't have any extras, but I still recommend it. (W. Dallan, Greensboro, NC)

As a fellow historian and author of the forthcoming book, "Dillinger, The Hidden Truth," I'd have to say: This movie was extremely well made. The movie is truly a classic, very adventurous, and realistically portrayed. I highly recommend this movie to everyone! I give the actors and cast five stars, but I can only give the movie a 4-star rating due to the lack of historical accuracy. The movie is based on many actual events, but the characters are incorrectly placed, and somewhat over dramatized by the true Hollywood tradition. (Tony Stewart, Ellettsville, IN)

Violent, intense and romantic tale of infamous Depression era gangster, John Dillinger by noted action / drama director John Milius is historically inaccurate, but still a very enjoyable gangster film for fans of the genre....and a bonus to now have it available on DVD !! (Sydney, Australia)




The Video

(A collectible)

The DVD



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photographed by Jules Brenner



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