When I was in high school, I interviewed a woman who was taken hostage by John Dillinger. I have no idea what happened to the text of our conversation, but I remember her talking about getting blindfolded and held out on the running board as they sped out of Bluffton, Ohio. She felt she was treated well by the gang; there was some gunplay, but that ceased once the hostages were trotted out.
Throughout our interview, I felt like Bobby in that episode of The Brady Bunch where his idolization of Jesse James is brought to an abrupt end when some old guy shows up and tells a big sob story about how the bandit offed his pappy. To me, Dillinger was legend; I loved Lewis Teague’s The Lady in Red, and was absolutely giddy to chatting with someone who’d been held at gunpoint by the infamous bank robber. While she was generous in recollecting her memories of the ordeal, I’m not sure "giddy" would accurately describe her mood – i.e. unless "happy to be alive" counts.
In any event, the dependably serious Christian Bale is "in talks" to play FBI Agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Dillinger epic, Public Enemies. Purvis wasn’t a barrel of laughs, so this is solid casting; it’ll be a nice contrast to Dillinger, who was an immensely charismatic figure. Somehow, I think Johnny Depp will handle the role of Dillinger with very little difficulty.
Mann’s been circling a myriad of projects, and while it’s too bad that he couldn’t secure the financing for his 1930s Hollywood backlot noir, at least he’s getting to do a period gangster flick. If you can’t get excited about the possibilities here, you must hate film.