Friday, March 7, 2008

Interview with Bryan Burrough - Public Enemies (The Book)

A couple of tidbits.

"Production" is building a set in the interior of the "bank" building to match an interior of a bank in Milwaukee to make the transition from the inside of that one to the outside of this one. It is unknown WHAT building in Milwaukee they are talking about (anyone? anyone?)

NEWS FLASH - The Milwaukee Historical Society will be the location of the above - thanks Jessica

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I'd like to thank Kristian from the Isthmus Newspaper/Web site for mentioning me and the band of merry bloggers. This is the paper/web site I'll be writing something for at some point (he actually sent a contract - DAMN YOU). I think he is trying to bribe me to write something good!
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In Columbus, work is continuing. The Kurth building has been getting some attention of late and new awnings are going up all over. Todd Frey of Colonial Carriage says . . . .

"A number of buildings began to see replacement "period" awnings today. They are much longer and lower than many of the modern awnings seen on buildings today. The complexion of little old Columbus is changing every day. Workers are buzzing around the business district and tourist traffic is increasing as well. Cars of people coming to see the transformation and scope out the town for another visit during filming.

Complete new building facades are being constructed over properties that do not fit the time period. One of the most interesting aspects are the props that are showing up in the buildings. So much merchandise from the era. Groceries, paper products, hardware, mannequins are beginning to show up in each of the stores. Buildings leased for storage are filling up with old signage that will be placed on buildings, doors, hardware, lighting and props. "

Saturday after I get back from the Casting call I'll do a walk-about snapping more shots and compare then to the ones BEFORE this all started happening.

Hollywood WI site has some WICKED photos that I'm jealous over (he is stealing my thunder LOL). So jealous I was forced to steal one AND mention him! This is the layout of "new Columbus". It's interesting to note that I did not take ANY photos of the street with numbers 1 through 10. That is why I do not make movies I guess.


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Last night while I was looking for proper 1930's clothing I talked to a woman who had been to a number of casting calls and she commented on how funny it was on height restrictions. Funny because woman had to be 5'8" or shorter. The reason is that Johnny Depp is only 5'7" and you don't want woman towering over him.

Think of the problems Tom Cruz has, he is only 4'8" isn't he?

Got me thinking - here are some heights of a few actors - NOT that I'm making judgments!

Paula Abdul 5'2"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus 5'2"
Henry Winkler 5'6"
Conan O’Brien 6'4"
Will Ferrell 6'3"
Brad Pitt 5'11"
Nicole Kidman 5"11"
Tom Cruz 5'7"
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I have to thank Karen from Johnny Depp Reads for the following interview. For any Johnny Depp fans that this is a great forum.

Here is an excerpt from an interview she had with Bryan Burrough, the writer of Public Enemies. For the interview in it's entirety go here.
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What do you think Johnny Depp could or would bring to the role of John Dillinger?

The key to the real-life Dillinger, what made him a `special' criminal, was his likeability, his charm. Whatever you thought of what he did in life, and he did kill at least one man, there was no denying his charisma. Mr. Depp has that in spades

What intrigued you about John Dillinger?

His accessibility. Unlike some of his peers, you could get a sense of who John Dillinger actually was. Part of this was the fact that Dillinger was the only major Depression-era criminal who was arrested, and allowed to give press interviews, during his crime spree. So unlike Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson, one can not only view footage of the real Dillinger, but read his words. So not only did he have charisma, it was a charisma you could see and feel. If not for the interviews he gave at Crown Point, I'm not sure Dillinger would have been so well-liked by the public.

Photo - John Dillinger (in vest) poses in the Crown Point, Indiana jail in 1934. Sheriff Lillian Holley, far left.
The Kansas City massacre happened trying to free one man and he was killed as well as many others. What happened there and what did the FBI learn from this?

The Kansas City Massacre was the shootout and murder of four law enforcement officers and a criminal fugitive at the Union Station railroad depot in Kansas City, Missouri on the morning of June 17, 1933. According to the official FBI report, the Kansas City Massacre occurred as the result of the attempt by Charles “Pretty Boy” Floyd(left), Vernon Miller, and Adam Richetti to free their friend, Frank Nash, a federal prisoner. At the time, Nash was in the custody of several law enforcement officers who were returning him to the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, from which he had escaped three years earlier. However all of the men alleged to be involved denied involvement. Floyd, in particular, went so far as to write to a newspaper denying involvement in the massacre. - from Wikipedia

I think what happened there, and I didn't get into this in my book, was that at the moment the gunmen yelled for the lawmen to freeze, one of the lawmen's guns went off. The assassins panicked and opened fire. This was the theory in a great book you could pick up, ``The Union Station Massacre,'' by Robert Unger. I do think Verne Miller was accompanied by Pretty Boy Floyd that day, a contention I lay out in Public Enemies.

The first car I bought for myself in the late 1970s was a Chevy with a huge V8 engine. Ahh those were the days. That car moved. Many people today don't understand the power behind a V8. My dad grew up in rural area in the depression and used to use the term "good dirt roads" all of the time and I didn't understand what that meant until I actually saw and drove on a "good dirt road". How did the vast number of new good roads and fast cars aide or encourage the 20 month crime spree? What all was happening then to help their ease of movement?

As I say in the book, the crime wave of 1933-34 was really the result of technology outstripping the legal system. The bad guys had V-8 engines and Thompson sub-machine guns, while many lawmen were still toodling around in hand-cranked Model T's with ancient pistols. It took a while for the lawmen to catch up, and when they did, it was pretty much curtains for the bad guys.

Little Bohemia. 1 FBI agent and 1 civilian killed. 0 criminals captured or killed. Good grief. Not great numbers. What went wrong with what should have been easy? Head 'em up... move 'em out.

Little Bohemia was the result of inexperience, haste and a woeful lack of planning. These poor FBI agents had no idea what they were walking into, and once they found themselves confronted by armed gunmen, they had no idea what to do. What resulted was a comedy of errors -- a comedy, that is, except for the fact that men were killed.

Melvin Purvis. Now there's a story. Good guy, young, eager. I got the idea that you liked him. What can you tell us about Purvis? Is history treating him fairly?

I loved Purvis as a character. An extraordinarily good man, earnest, hardworking, well-intentioned, but way, way, way out of his depth when pitted against John Dillinger. Purvis had never been trained for this. He was only 29, for pete's sake. His Achilles heel was his obvious love of publicity, which ultimately led to his departure from the FBI in 1935. History, at least the movies, has generally been kind to Purvis. In fact, I daresay Public Enemies is the first retelling of events to suggest that Purvis was so over matched. What you have to say about Purvis is that he always gave his best, but in the end his best just wasn't good enough. It's sad that, having been hounded by Hoover for years after his retirement, he ultimately committed suicide. His family always blamed Hoover for that.

. . . . . . . why does most of the action seem to be in St. Paul and not Chicago?

Great question. St. Paul, it turns out, was the capital of Midwestern crime during the 1920s and 1930s, and for a simple reason. It was something called ``The O'Connor System,'' named after the St. Paul police chief who started in around 1908. Basically, the St. Paul cops made a deal with criminals: As long as they didn't commit crimes in St. Paul itself, they would be left alone. As a result, St. Paul became a safe haven for scores of bank robbers, including Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Alvin Karpis, the Barkers and Machine Gun Kelly. FBI files actually indicate it was a top St. Paul cop who initiated the Barker-Karpis gang's two major St. Paul kidnappings.
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I'm surprised Mr. Burrough skipped an important character. I know Micheal Mann had to add some scenes but from what I have heard they had to be cut because of the length of the movie problem.

Mr. Burrough totally skipped over Machine Gun Kelly's and Pretty Boy Floyd's wacky cousin

Trailer Park Tony

It seems one of the big hide outs the gang were going to use was at Trailer Park Tony's hideaway. These scene, NEVER BEFORE shown to the public (I have my fingers in all the jars - YOU CAN NOT HIDE FROM ME MICHEAL MANN) is of the set they were going to use.

However it seems upon further research that the gang decided NOT to use this secret hideaway. The reasons are still unclear. It was rumored that Carrot Top was going to be Trailer Park Tony but Michael Mann (were on a first and last name basis) decided to go a different route with the movie.
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SO - back to reality - I'll certainly have some stories to tell after the casting call and I hope to see SOMEBODY there. I'll have a black Nikon, dark, long overcoat black, large lapel-ed double breasted suit and with a freshly shaven face, I'll look cold. Look for someone that looks like an old west preacher (maybe Deadwood would want me).
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And with all seriousness I have to say that this entire experience has been a joy. The people involved with blogs and newspaper articles and photos and information - EVERYONE connected with this movie are generous and sharing. I am proud to be one of the Public Enemies news family. I'm proud that this has not turned into a contest on who can get the most information.

It's what the internet is all about - FUN!

The amount of information that a group of people can get is 10 fold what one person could get.

Thank you.

Rod Melotte aka Grinder