Gritty, stylish, self-assured, Public Enemies is a barnstormingly sublime nod to the mad heists and improbable escapes of one of history's most beloved gangsters. Just as Michael Mann wanted to pay tribute to John Dillinger, we want to pay tribute to Michael Mann. Alas, we don't quite have his moviemaking ability so we'll have to settle with doffing our collective cap in the way we know best, arming you with 20 brilliant facts about Public Enemies.
According to Johnny Depp in the DVD documentary, he went to the John Dillinger Museum, in Indiana, and tried on the trousers Dillinger wore the night he was shot. The pants fit him perfectly. This wasn't his sole intention of going to the museum, we should add. He read Dillinger's letters and stuff like that. He's not, like, a trousers obsessive or anything.
During a getaway scene following a bank robbery, Johnny Depp drives an actual 1932 Studebaker that was used by Dillinger as a getaway car, following a bank robbery in Greencastle, Indiana. The car was borrowed from a nearby auto museum.
The crew filmed the Little Bohemia shootout at the real lodge where it happened - shell casings from the 1934 gunfight can still be found in the woods surrounding it. Johnny Depp stayed in the same room the real Dillinger stayed in. Okay Johnny, it's getting a bit weird now.
Dillinger's jailbreak from Crown Point, Indiana and Dillinger's death near the Biograph Theater in Chicago were also filmed where they actually happened.
Dillinger was actually left-handed, with Depp being right. Granted this poster isn't exactly unequivocal proof that, you may need to take our word for it, but Depp's holding his weapon the other way round from the infamous gangster.
While 3 months separated both John Dillinger and Melvin Purvis, Johnny Depp is almost 11 years older than Christian Bale.
The poster was designed by famous graphic designer Neville Brody, who actually designed a new typeface for the title, called 'New Deal'.
"Michael Mann understands the power of a good title sequence and always commissions his own," Brody told The Guardian. "For Public Enemies, he wanted a font that evoked the Depression era, so I got inspiration from publicity posters for Roosevelt's New Deal initiative, which promoted economic relief after the 1929 Wall Street collapse. They're designed in a very constructivist, Soviet, communist style. My font is very solid, clearly masculine, immovable, and it has some very speciﬁcally naive details, like the way the horizontal strokes are all slightly too wide – we've taken out the optical correction. And if you look at the 'B' you'll see that the holes in the middle are a little bit too small – they look like bullet holes."
Depp’s grandfather and stepfather had operated on the wrong side of the law and he drew inspiration from them in his performance.
His stepfather, Robert Palmer, had actually done time in Statesville Prison, Illinois where much of the film was shot and Depp even discovered a mug shot of Palmer, who died in 2000, in the files at the maximum security prison.
Marion Cotillard trained herself to speak in a French-Canadian-Menominee-Wisconsin-Chicago accent. Which is surely an accent we've all got mastered, no? She spoke only English for three months during filming.
The movie is based on Bryan Burrough's 2004 non-fiction: Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34. Burrough had the aim of creating a miniseries, an idea that was accepted by HBO. Burrough was made an executive producer, along with Robert De Niro's Tribeca Productions, and set about writing the screenplay. He hated his own work and interest in the miniseries disappeared. The rights were re-sold to production companies representing Michael Mann. Former NYPD Blue writer and Southland creator Ann Biderman rewrote the screenplay with Mann, who polished it before shooting began.
Burrough's book details the demise of multiple infamous criminals in a 14-month period, including Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde (pictured), the Barker-Karpis gang and Machine Gun Kelly. In focusing on Dillinger, Mann and co-writers omitted Bonnie and Clyde entirely, briefly included only one member of the Barker gang (Alvin Karpis), and left out Pretty Boy Floyd except for his death.
Melvin Purvis’ son, Alston Purvis does not completely agree with Bryan Burrough’s depiction of his father. He does, however, credit Christian Bale with delivering an excellent interpretation of Melvin. Bale and Alston worked together prior to filming, with Alston reading his father’s lines from the script aloud so Bale could get the accent and voice inflections correct.
Public Enemies was one of the first big-budget films ever to premiere in Chicago before Los Angeles. It pumped millions into the State economy - more than any other movie - having been filmed in Illinois. These cars were on display for the premiere.
In the film, Dillinger and Purvis have a brief conversation in person while Dillinger is incarcerated. In reality, they came close to seeing each other just before Dillinger died, but never actually exchanged words.
Depp sent a 12-year-old boy his hat. He promised it to the lad after they met while the movie was shooting in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the boy just came out and asked Johnny if he could have it. Depp agreed he would get the battered fedora to the youngster when he was done with it and sent a raft of a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory promotional gifts for the boy's four brothers and sisters, too.
He did more than that. Depp saved six extras from being run down by a car on set. A stunt driver lost control of the 1933 Ford after hitting a patch of ice. Depp jumped into the vehicle's path when he spotted it skidding towards the extras, who were standing with their backs turned. A witness told the News of the World: "Johnny slammed into the group with arms outspread, shoving them all back."
Unbeknownst to the cast and crew until the day they shot it (April 22), they filmed the famed shootout at the Little Bohemia Lodge on the anniversary of the fight.
In the scene where Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham, pictured) kills Carter Baum, Nelson really did say "I know you sons of bitches wear vests, so I'm gonna hit you high and low!"
The dialogue between Dillinger's lawyer, prosecutor Robert Estill, and Sherriff Lilian Holley about the removal of Dillinger's shackles are virtually word for word the interaction between them in the court records.
Leonardo DiCaprio was initially attached to star in a leading role when this project was put into development in 2004. He eventually left the project to appear in Shutter Island.