Public Enemies Author Praises Mann's Film
06.30.09 by BJSprecher
Readers are often disappointed by Hollywood's attempts to turn their favorite books into films. For every success — The Notebook — there are dozens of films that simply don't live up to the source material, such as most Stephen King adaptations. But, it's not just the fans that feel slighted when a poor film is made from a great book. From Alan Moore (Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) to Ursala K. Le Guin (Earthsea), disappointed and disillusioned authors have been very vocal in condemning films they believe are not true to their source material.
However, that is not the case with Michael Mann's latest film. Partially based on the book Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34 by Bryan Burrough, the film follows FBI Special Agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) and his attempt to capture the infamous bank-robber-turned Depression-era-hero John Dillinger (Johnny Depp). Burrough recently wrote an article praising Mann's adaptation and the historical accuracy of the film:
This is the first Dillinger and the first gangster movie I'm aware of that takes great pains to get not only the details but the sites right. Mann not only shot at the actual scene of Dillinger's greatest jailbreak, the lockup in Crown Point, Ind., but at the actual scene of his greatest shootout, at the Little Bohemia lodge. Somehow he prevailed upon Chicago to hand over six entire blocks of North Lincoln Avenue, where Dillinger memorably met his fate outside the Biograph Theater one hot night in July 1934.
Burrough went on to say:
Yes, I know it's just a movie, and I know most in the audience won't especially care that the details are historically accurate, but I can vividly remember looking around and smiling nevertheless, happy that, in this one small case at least, Hollywood was getting it right.