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Dillinger
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of Savage Cinema and Screening Violence
  • Newly-filmed interview with producer Lawrence Gordon
  • Newly-filmed interview with director of photography Jules Brenner
  • Newly-filmed interview with composer Barry De Vorzon
  • Stills gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
  • Collector's booklet containing new writing by Kim Newman on fictional portrayals of John Dillinger, plus an on-set report containing interviews with writer-director John Milius and others, illustrated with original production stills

Dillinger

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: John Milius
1990 | 91 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: April 26, 2016
Review Date: May 31, 2016

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

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SYNOPSIS

NOBODY DID IT LIKE DILLINGER! The runaway success of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967 proved massively influential: it made stars of Faye Dunaway and Warren Beauty, introduced a new form of violence to the movies, and inspired a stream of imitators, including Bloody Mama, Martin Scorsese's Boxcar Bertha and the directorial debut of John Milius, Dillinger. Milius presents John Dillinger as an almost mythical figure, tracing the rise and fall of the Depression era's Public Enemy Number One as he takes on the banks and the G-men, led by the infamous Melvin Purvis. Starring Sam Peckinpah favourites Warren Oates and Ben Johnson as Dillinger and Purvis, and with a supporting cast including Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Dreyfuss and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas, Dillinger is a top drawer gangster picture: explosive, stylish and hugely entertaining.


PICTURE

John Miliusí Dillinger comes to Blu-ray in a new dual-format edition released by Arrow Video. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from a new 2K scan of the 35mm interpositive.

Though there has been an extensive amount of clean-up it feels as though Arrow has otherwise left the image pretty much alone. Other than a handful of sequences the image retains a fairly dirty and gritty, almost dull look, which feels accurate to the nature and look of the film. Brown and grays are the primary colours and other than blue skies and some streamers at a country dance, I donít recall a lot of other colours really popping up. Saturation is otherwise nice, though, and blacks look fairly deep, though crushing is a problem here and there. The film is fairly grainy but it has been rendered well, and the image remains sharp and highly detailed except in sequences that look to have been intentionally shot with a soft focus. The transfer also didnít present any digital anomalies that stood out.

It doesnít pop or really call attention to itself, but itís a nice, filmic presentation that feels to be accurate to the intended look of the film.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The English PCM 1.0 mono track can sound a bit flat, but for its age and fairly low budget (though it was probably the most expensive film made at American International Pictures at the time) the overall quality is good. Dialogue is easy to hear, there isnít any distracting instances of damage, and the filmís period music does manage to pack a bit of fidelity.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow puts together a solid little special edition for the film, starting with a new audio commentary by film scholar Stephen Prince. Though heíll go on tangents about modern editing and use of space in action scenes when admiring the simplicity of them here (I agree with him but he seems especially bitter) Prince yet again offers a very well-rounded, in-depth analysis for a film, admiring Miliusí simple form of visual storytelling, influenced heavily by John Ford with obvious nods to My Darling Clementine. He also compares the film to others from the time period this one was made, the most obvious one being Bonnie and Clyde, and how the filmís level of violence fits in with the period of Sam Peckinpah. He does also comment on the authenticity of the film, and Milius does play with the facts extensively, though this isnít at all surprising. Prince has a lot to share and he packs the track with as much as he can while also managing to keep it engaging.

Cinematographer Jules Brenner appears in the first video supplement and tells the story as to how he came to work on the film and shares a few stories set giving a good idea as to what it was like to work on Miliusí set. He also talks about Warren Oates and shares his favourite scene. The interview runs about 12-minutes.

Producer Lawrence Gordon next appears for 10-minutes and talks about his first producer credit, sharing the backstory to the production. Interestingly a Dillinger script came in to Gordon at AIP and while he thought the subject had potential he thought the script was terrible. But he was determined to get it made. Since it was AIP, though, it meant the budget was limited so he had to be creative in putting the project together. The big issue was the script and he wanted Milius to do it, but his asking price at the time would have been out of the question. This actually led to Milius directing: Gordon offered Milius the opportunity to direct but that meant heíd have to take a big pay cut, to which Milius agreed just so he could get the chance. Milius put together a great cast and was able to put the film together rather cheaply, finding excellent locations that delivered the look they wanted. In the end the film did really well and actually gave the studio more prestige within the industry. People within the industry were also apparently shocked at how cheaply the film was made. Gordonís very fond of the film and he speaks very highly of Milius. Excellent interview.

Composer Barry De Vorzon is up next and he talks about the filmís score and the research he put in to capture the correct tone and rhythm of the period. He talks about AIP and Gordon, with Gordon a bit of a different producer since he actually pushed quality, something that the studio wasnít always concerned about, and he talks about what it was like working with Milius. Itís another engaging interview, probably best when he tells the story as to how he came to be a composer. It runs 12-minutes.

The supplements then close off with a photo gallery made up of about 100 photos (just a little shy), the filmís trailer, and then the filmís music and effects track as an alternate channel, also presented in PCM mono. The included booklet (limited to first pressings as I understand it) features an excellent essay on the film by Kim Newman, as well as a reprinting of a 1973 article from Photography magazine, where writer John Austin visited the set.

Iím impressed with the effort that went into this, Arrow pulling in Prince and managing to get an interview with Gordon, and it was all worthwhile: itís an engaging set of material.

8/10

CLOSING

The film feels to have gotten somewhat lost over the years but Arrow does an excellent job bringing it back to the forefront. It receives a sharp looking presentation and some great supplements, including an excellent scholarly commentary. It comes very highly recommended.




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