Public Enemies

Johnny Depp as Dillinger

The real John Dillinger

The real Billie Frechette

Marion Cotillard as Billie Frechette

Public Enemies with my boyfriend Johnny Depp came out on video last week and if you haven’t seen it, you must! The film is about 1930’s gangster John Dillinger. It is based on the book of the same name. Johnny looks amazing as usual and you can’t help but fall for the bad guy. Here are some fun facts about the film.

–As a result of the writers’ strike, director Michael Mann was able to cast Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard once their respective projects had been postponed. Depp was preparing to film Shantaram (2011) with Mira Nair while Cotillard was rehearsing for Rob Marshall’s musical, Nine (2009).

–Leonardo DiCaprio was initially attached to star in a leading role when this project was put into development in 2004.

–This is the third time Johnny Depp and James Russo work together on a film. They both appeared in Donnie Brasco (1997) and The Ninth Gate (1999).

–The gunfight at the lodge in the woods was filmed at the Little Bohemia Lodge in Manitowish Waters, WI which is the actual location where the gunfight between Dillinger and the FBI took place in 1934. In fact, shell casings from the 1934 gunfight can still be found in the woods surrounding the lodge.

–John Dillinger was actually left-handed. The gun holding by Johnny Depp is backwards.

–Channing Tatum (Pretty Boy Floyd), Billy Crudup (J. Edgar Hoover), David Wenham (Harry Pierpont) and Christian Stolte (Charles Makley) are the only actors in the film playing characters their own age. All of the other actors in the film play characters much younger than themselves. Melvin Purvis was 28 years old during the events in the film and Christian Bale was 35 during the shoot. John Dillinger was 31 at the time of his death, while Johnny Depp is 45 in the film. 35-year-old Stephen Graham is playing a 25-year-old Baby Face Nelson, Stephen Dorff, also 35, plays a 27-year-old Homer Van Meter, and Giovanni Ribisi, 34, plays 27-year-old Alvin Carpis.

–The portrayal of the death of gangster George Baby Face Nelson in this film is completely fictionalized. Nelson died in bed having been mortally wounded in a shootout with federal agents months after the death of John Dillinger.

–When Dillinger’s body was lying in the street outside the Biograph theater, many by-standers dipped handkerchiefs in his blood to keep as a souvenir.

–While filming on location in Oshkosh, WI a boy aged 11 told Johnny Depp he loved his fedora hat and would like to have one like it. Depp told the boy he would see what he could do about that. After filming finished, Depp sent the boy the hat in the mail.

–Although Billie Frenchette was never given “third degree” interrogation by the FBI as shown in the movie, the FBI agents did in fact perform similar tactics on Helen Nelson (the wife of Baby Face Nelson), Alvin Carpis, and an Dillinger associate in Chicago named James Probasco. In the instance of Probasco, he ended up falling to his death from a upper-floor window. Offically, it is believed he committed suicide in order to avoid further interrogation. However, some historians believe that the FBI agents interrogating Probasco attempted to make him talk by hanging him out of a window and that the agents lost their grip on Probasco.

–Just before John Dillinger goes to the movies the night he is killed, when John is washing and shaving, the camera pans across a table where we see his pocket watch, gun, glasses, and a money belt. According to Anna Sage (aka “The Woman In Red”), Dillinger was wearing a money belt with $3,000 inside. However, when Dillinger was killed, the money belt was nowhere to be found. Historians have speculated that Sgt. Martin Zarkovich, who was a part of Purvis’s posse at the theater, stole the money.

–At one point, Alvin Karpis is seen planning a federal reserve train robbery with John Dillinger. In real life, the robbery was set up by an underworld associate of Dillinger, Karpis, and “Baby Face” Nelson named William Murray. Interestingly, Murray had set up the exact same robbery back in 1925 with the Newton Brothers (as seen in the film The Newton Boys (1998)). Although John Dillinger was killed before he could take part in the robbery, Alvin Carpis did pull it off on November 7th, 1935.

–It’s true that Dillinger enjoyed taking photographs of police officers when the opportunity presented itself, and even late in his career he would often attend Cubs games and frequent bars in Chicago, but he probably didn’t enter the offices of the Dillinger Squad, as depicted in the film. Dillinger also tended to brag about his exploits. As with many other events in his life, he would have surely related such a fantastic thing to his family, his lawyer, or his lawyer’s investigator, Art O’Leary, a man Dillinger often confided in. However, according to Burrough’s book, he did enter the same building as the Chicago police department on a few occasions, and he did accompany Polly Hamilton into the building to get her waitress’s license.

–In the movie, John Dillinger and other bank robbers are seen having friendly relations with the Chicago Mafia. Specifically with Phillip D’Andrea, a top lieutenant in the Al Capone mob. In real life, Al Capone was said to admire bank robbers and would often allow bandits safe haven in Chicago under the mob’s protection. However, as also shown in the movie, after Frank Nitti took over the mob following Al Capone’s conviction for tax evasion, he cut off such resources to outlaws like Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and Alvin Carpis because of the “heat” that was being brought down on the mobs because of the FBI’s furious hunt for these men.

–Due to the concern of grave robbers, officials at Crown Hill Cemetery persuaded Dillinger’s father to have his famous son’s grave re-opened so as to place staggered concrete slabs, along with poured concrete and chicken wire, in and around the grave as a permanent deterrent. He’d already been offered $10,000 from a Wisconsin carnival man to “borrow” Dillinger’s body for his show, an offer that was fiercely rejected. The grave work was done within a day or two of the initial burial. The identity of who paid for this expensive preventative measure is unknown.

–Billie Frechette (real name Mary Evelyn Frechette) was actually married to one Welton Spark at the time of her relationship with Dillinger. She married Spark in July 1932. He was convicted shortly thereafter for mail theft and received a 15-year term in Leavenworth, with a transfer to Alcatraz in September 1934. Her divorce from Spark wasn’t finalized until the early ’40s. She later married a man named Wally Wilson, the name she took to the grave. Wilson died unexpectedly, cause unknown, date unknown. Billie married Art Tic in 1965, a state game warden and barber from Shawano, Wisconsin. She died January 13, 1969, of mouth cancer. Mysteriously, her grave marker lists her name as Evelyn Tic (apparently against her wishes) and has the incorrect date of death as 1970.

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Join the Discussion!

  1. I guess I live under a rock…thought this hadn’t even come out yet. I really want to see it – this is my kind of movie. I guess I have an idea of what the hubby and I can do this weekend.


    PS-I have not forgotten about your info…just finishing up a project

  2. What a fantastic (and highly interesting) post, Kori dear! You’ve further whetted my appetite to see this action packed flick a great deal!

    Thank you very much for your beautiful comments, my sweet friend, I really hope that you’re having a splendid week!

    Tons of hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

  3. ok.. it is official.. I am your new BFF! where in the world do you find these fabulous pics!!
    Again… awesome!!



  4. I really enjoyed this film. I loved Marion Cotillard’s performance. I am relieved to hear that the real life Billie did not suffer a “third degree” interrogation. That scene disturbed me and I pondered about her for days after. I love your posts x

  5. I am a HUGE Johnny Depp fan! Oh yeah! 😉 Surprisingly, I have yet to see this movie of his. Now that it’s out, I just might have to purchase it for an xmas present to myself to watch! 😉 Great review. Hope you’re having a good week.

  6. just saw this. Lots of hot vintage man-candy to watch (I am equally in love with Johnny Depp, Billy Crupdup and Christian Bale); also think Marion Cotillard is divine…but I was disappointed. They didn’t let viewers linger over the vintage settings and costumes at ALL. Lots of shootouts, but not much plot or character (still love Johnny, though).

  7. well I just grazed over the fun facts because I still haven’t seen that movie and I don’t want to spoil for myself:)
    Been wanting to see public enemy since it came out now I really need to see it!!! :)
    the Dillinger story always fascinated me…

  8. I can’t wait to see this movie. I love movies like this one. And the wardrobe is so awesome. Johnny looks so amazing in this film. Again, I can’t wait to rent it.

    Wish we lived closer because I totally would invite you for dinner, lol. I just posted an easy but fantastic banana pudding recipe on my cooking blog at

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