Most of the movies were made in the late 1950s and 1960s, and were intended for drive-ins, so historical accuracy was probably not a high priority. Even though they are not directly related to the Public Enemy Era, The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover and J. Edgar are included on the list because the hunt for the Public Enemies helped cement FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s image as the nation’s top cop. I have to admit that I have not seen most of these films, but once I have made my way through the list, I will write an essay on how the period was treated by Hollywood.
Directed by William Keighley, starring James Cagney and Margaret Lindsay
An unsuccessful lawyer joins the FBI after his friend is killed while chasing outlaws loosely modeled on John Dillinger’s gang. The outlaws’ crime spree leads to FBI agents receiving permission to carry guns.
Directed by Max Nosseck, starring Lawrence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys
It shows the rise of John Dillinger from petty criminal to bank robber and finally Public Enemy Number One. (full review)
Directed by Don Siegel, starring Mickey Rooney and Carolyn Jones
Rising gangster Baby Face Nelson allies with John Dillinger to oppose Al Capone, criminal overlord of Chicago.
Directed by Roger Corman, starring Charles Bronson and Susan Cabot
Kelly is a tough talking bank robber who is dominated by his wife. He attracts the attention of the FBI when his gang kidnaps a little girl and her nurse.
Directed by William Whitey, starring Dorothy Provine and Jack Hogan
Ruthless outlaw Bonnie Parker leads her sidekick Guy Darrow and his brother Chuck on a rampage across the South-West, robbing banks and leaving a trail of dead bodies.
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, starring James Stewart and Vera Miles
A veteran FBI agent relates his experience with the FBI from its humble beginnings through its battles with bank robbers, gangsters, Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and communists.
Directed by Bill Karn, starring Lurene Tuttle and Paul Dubov
Ma Barker leads her four sons in a wave of bank robberies and kidnappings, while providing advice for other gangsters.
Directed by Herbert J. Leder, starring John Ericson and Barry Newman
Tells the story of Pretty Boy Floyd, who was involved in the Kansas City Massacre and became a successful bank robber until the FBI finally tracked him down.
Directed by Arthur Penn, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway
During the middle of the Depression, a small gang of bank robbers go on a crime spree in the mid-West but as they become more famous, the police make greater efforts to hunt them down. (full review)
Directed by Larry Buchanan, starring Fabian and Jocelyn Lane
Pretty Boy Floyd becomes an outlaw after killing the man who murdered his father.
Directed by John Milius, starring Warren Oates and Ben Johnson
Following the death of several FBI agents during the Kansas City Massacre, FBI agent Melvin Purvis vows to capture or kill a number of famous outlaws including Machine Gun Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and John Dillinger. (full review)
Directed by Larry Cohen, starring Broderick Crawford and Michael Parks
It follows Hoover during the 48 years that he ran the FBI and examines his willingness to bend the constitution to defend the nation, as well as his refusal to retire and the fear of presidents to openly confront him.
Directed by Lewis Teague, starring Robert Conrad and Pamela Sue Martin
While hiding in Chicago, Dillinger starts a relationship with Polly Hamilton, a sometime prostitute looking for a better life.
Directed by Michael Mann, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale
Led by agent Melvin Purvis, the FBI hunts outlaws and bank robbers, including John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd and the Barker-Karpis gang. (full review)
Directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnie Hammer
As director of the FBI for almost fifty years, J. Edgar Hoover symbolized law enforcement to the nation. Viewed as a master of secrets, he actually struggled to keep secret his romantic relationship with Clyde Tolson, the assistant director of the Bureau. (full review)
Directed by Bruce Beresford, starring Emile Hirsch and Holiday Grainger
A young waitress falls in love with an outlaw, and they embark on a crime spree.