This week, among the outstanding, thematically diverse films coming to DVD is a period piece chronicling the exploits of famous gangsters and the legendary FBI inspector who captured them.
Michael Mann's Public Enemies (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Universal) spotlights both famous personalities and key events from the era when such characters as John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and Alvin Karpis captured the imagination of the public despite their criminal exploits.
Mann's lengthy (140 minutes) work mainly focuses on Dillinger (Johnny Depp), his relationship with Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) and legendary FBI agent Melvin Purvis' (Christian Bale) long crusade to capture him.
The film divides its time equally between Bale's often stormy relationship with superior J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) and his searches for not only Dillinger, but also Floyd (Channing Tatum), Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi) and Nelson (Stephen Graham).
Bale plays Purvis in a more relentless, less folksy manner than some previous actors, most notably Dale Robertson, whose portrayal of Purvis in both films and television shows depicted him as a larger-than-life, rollicking type who loved gambling, fancy cars and women. This Purvis is a tough, serious type who doesn't have much tine for small talk or bureau politics.
Public Enemies sometimes veers off into the unusual relationship between Dillnger and Frechette, and also shows just how magnetic Dillinger's personality was during that time. He was also quite brilliant, and among the film's highlights is the depiction of his escape from a heavily guarded prison, one that was particularly embarrassing to both prison and federal officials at the time.
The movie was based in part on Bryan Burrough's comprehensive Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI and is far more detailed and realistic than many of its predecessors.
Thanks to Ron Wynn
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