“Watch for the woman in red.”
When a petty thief (Lawrence Tierney) meets a high-level criminal (Edmund Lowe) in prison, he soon graduates to bank heists, becoming America’s Public Enemy Number One. Along the way, he meets and starts dating a beautiful box office girl (Anne Jeffreys) who will one day play a pivotal role in his downfall
Lawrence Tierney’s breakthrough role was playing the title character in this low-budget Monogram Pictures flick about notorious gangster John Dillinger. It remains a surprisingly taut and effective film about Dillinger’s rise-and-fall — including an interesting meet-cute with “the lady in red” (he holds her up in her ticket booth, she refuses to identify him in a line-up, and the rest is “I was meant to be a moll” history). The supporting performances are all fine — particularly Lowe (who looks eerily like a serious Lionel Barrymore) as “Specs” — and Tierney instantly proved his ability to embody psychopathic impulses without a blink. Especially tense and well-played scenes are those focused on Dillinger seeking revenge: Dillinger revisiting a bar (“You don’t remember me, do you?”) where a waiter once made the mistake of referring to then-penniless-Dillinger as a “two-bit chiseler”; Dillinger confronting Specs with the hyper-realistic wooden gun he made while in prison. This 70-minute flick is well worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine performances by Tierney, Lowe, and Jeffreys
- Numerous tension-filled scenes
- Effective cinematography
Yes, as an effective low-budget gangster film. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.