Written by / 11/25/2022 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , ,

LAWRENCE TIERNEY DEAD AS 'DILLINGER' WITH ANNE JEFFREYS

Anne Jeffreys and Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER Year: 1945 Rating: ****1/2

In the 1930's through to the 1960's and 1970's, before and after the Hayes Code, movie gangsters and especially bank robbers were usually adventurous anti-heroes, and in-between, the common crooks and petty thieves were desperate and woefully sympathetic, always in dire need of money to feed themselves or their family instead of just robbing for kicks... In other words, the bad guys were good guys forced to do bad things for... understandable reason...

So in what's known as The Lawrence Tierney DILLINGER (compared to the historically accurate Warren Oates DILLINGER) there's a touch of Noir since our man starts out a naive dolt: thrown in prison for attempting to knock-off a corner store to buy his shallow date a few more drinks at a fancy restaurant. Then, behind bars, what he learns — especially from Edmund Lowe as a bank robbing mentor named Specs — turns the real life criminal/folk hero into what The Tierney DILLINGER is: a downright formidable monster in his very own proverbial Monster Movie...

Lawrence Tierney's second film after Ghost Ship for DILLINGER

Right from the opening credits, as the film's title glows to the banging gong chorus of thunder, lighting and rain, looking straight out of James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN: What Tierney brings to the role... while lacking biographical elements and looking nothing like the legendary outlaw... is made up for in coldblooded, ruthless expressions: The start of the signature Tierney grimace (and ominous growl) provides a sinister mask that some consider a limited range of acting... yet true fans know those limits have no bounds...

Meanwhile, American History buffs are repelled by this semi-Noir programmer (the Warren Oates/John Milius seventies version is far superior), especially those keen on seeing DILLINGER as a likable icon who found a way out of The Great Depression: Our temperamental beast winds up slaughtering a pretty boy with an axe, and killing a friendly old couple, and is more intent to murder than steal. Otherwise, beyond the ultra-violence, it's an entertaining popcorn thriller that sticks to a basic bank heist formula but not without throwing in a few particularly creative scores where the camera provides neat angles, dark lighting and terrific use of montage... 

Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Edmund Lowe

DILLINGER has a no nonsense script that, like the king of b-monster flicks, KING KONG, doesn't veer into superfluous dialogue and, like a shark... a killer shark... keeps moving forward at a brisk, lethal pace and without a particular "Van Helsing" to stop the menace: Melvin Purvis G-Man is nowhere to be found (while Ben Johnson has almost equal screen-time with Warren Oates in the 70's version, and was Dillinger's lawman shadow in real life)...

It's a hoot watching Tierney smoothly combining intense anger with insanity: Like in real life, drinking and brawling or intimidating fellow actors, actresses, directors, producers and anyone in his way, this particular DILLINGER is a kind of exploitation all its own — played by a hotheaded firebrand like Tierney, who was just starting out...

Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER

His reputation would quickly ruin a budding career, literally taking till Quentin Tarantino's early-90's crime flick RESERVOIR DOGS to reignite and/or legitimize his practically forgotten legacy (though his face appeared in many films and even an aspirin commercial). "Dead as Dillinger," Tierney's Joe Cabot explains of an ill-fated thief... 

While this bank robbing gang, looking more like city hoods than rural ones... including Marc Lawrence and Elisha Cook Jr... back him up, his worst enemy is himself, and the woman he loves: In this case a reluctant moll in blond beauty Anne Jeffreys (who'd join Tierney again in the jovial sober THIN MAN style programmer titled STEP BY STEP)...

Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Anne Jeffreys

Her classy gun moll type (though far from being a femme tatale) remains calm, cool, calculated, in control the entire ride and, captured in that era's usual grainy Black & White, you have to take Dillinger's word when he tells his dame, right before she slips into the Chicago night, You look great... in red... 

For in a True Crime Biopic so historically inaccurate, one can't help but realize the casting of a monster to play a monster who, during his bank robbing reign, was a popular crook who could get in and out of trouble with ease.

Key Video for DILLINGER starring Lawrence Tierney
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Anne Jeffreys

Stormy intro for DILLINGER
Constance Worth in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Constance Worth in DILLINGER with Lawrence Tierney with Lou Lubin
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Edmund Lowe
Eduardo Ciannelli in DILLINGER with Marc Lawrence and Edmund Lowe
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Anne Jeffreys in DILLINGER
Anne Jeffreys in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Eduardo Ciannelli in DILLINGER with Marc Lawrence
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Marc Lawrence
Elisha Cook Jr. in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Anne Jeffreys in DILLINGER
Eduardo Ciannelli in DILLINGER with Marc Lawrence
Anne Jeffreys in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Anne Jeffreys and Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Anne Jeffreys autograph for DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
About to give the "good kid" the axe, Lawrence Tierney's Dillinger waits around the corner
Tierney's Dillinger after calling out, "God" for "Guard," which Woody Allen would parody in 1969...
We hope you enjoyed this review of the Lawrence Tierney DILLINGER... sure looks like it
Edmund Lowe in DILLINGER
Eduardo Ciannelli in DILLINGER with Marc Lawrence
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
DILLINGER with Anne Jeffreys
DILLINGER with 7th Victim character-actor Lou Lubin
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Lou Lubin
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER
Elsa Janssen and Ludwig Stössel in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Anne Jeffreys and Ralph Lewis
Marc Lawrence in DILLINGER with Elisha Cook Jr
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Anne Jeffreys
Lawrence Tierney in DILLINGER with Anne Jeffreys & Edmund Lowe
Lawrence Tierney as John Dillinger in DILLINGER
Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys in DILLINGER directed by Max Nosseck

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