Starring... John Dillinger: The Series by Bill Walker | Script Revolution

Starring... John Dillinger: The Series

A notorious outlaw reinvents himself as a talented movie star and must convince everyone he's gone legit in order to commit his most theatrical crime of all—robbing the Warner Bros' payroll truck.



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Based On: 
the novel by Bill Walker & Brian Anthony

It is July 1934, the hottest summer on record, and John Dillinger is tired of being hunted like an animal. Desperate to turn himself in as safely as possible, he tries to arrange his surrender through Robert Butler, a trusted reporter, but the attempt fails when the police show up unexpectedly. However, because of an offhand remark by Butler’s ten-year-old daughter, Lizzie—that he looks like Clark Gable—Dillinger does the unthinkable: he surrenders outside the Biograph Theatre, thwarting J. Edgar Hoover’s plan to have him legally assassinated. The responsibility for this screw-up rests with Special Agent Melvin Purvis.

Dillinger’s trial is speedy, and while he beats the murder rap, he is sent to Michigan State Prison for bank robbery. While incarcerated, Dillinger proposes to Warden Cushing that he be allowed to make a public service film warning the kids of America not to be like him and to fly straight. The warden is skeptical, but he contacts J. Edgar Hoover, who relishes the propaganda value of such a film. Hoover enlists Jack Warner, who agrees to finance the film with the proviso that it will only be shown in Warner Brothers theatres.

The film is shot in one day with Dillinger directing the astonished film crew, and when the completed film is screened, no one is prepared for Dillinger’s performance. Onscreen, he is a seething, snarling animal, and the women in the audience are weak-kneed with lust.

Impressed, Warner uses his considerable influence, even resorting to blackmail, to arrange a pardon for Dillinger and brings him to Hollywood for grooming and acting lessons. Enraged that Warner has thwarted him, Hoover sends Melvin Purvis to Los Angeles. His sole mission: to watch Dillinger night and day.

But Dillinger is not about to risk the good life by doing anything wrong, and when his first movie, "The Petrified Forest," premieres Dillinger is hailed as a star of the first magnitude. Now, everyone wants to work with Dillinger, even Shirley Temple.

Meanwhile, convinced Dillinger has gone legitimate, Purvis quits the FBI and decides to pursue a career writing detective novels and screenplays. Dillinger approaches Warner about writing and directing a film based upon his own criminal past. As box-office insurance, he agrees to play himself. Warner is reluctant to make a movie that might incur the wrath of Hoover and is flummoxed when the FBI Director tells him he approves.

Purvis becomes re-acquainted with Dillinger. The former outlaw wants to help Purvis succeed and asks him to collaborate on the "Dillinger" script.

Moving forward with his own plans, Hoover sends Special Agent Clarence Hurt to Hollywood, where he recruits a reluctant Purvis to continue watching Dillinger, or Hoover will ruin him. Unknown to Purvis, Hurt’s true mission is to trap and kill Dillinger. When Hurt learns through Purvis that the climax of the Dillinger film will be shot on location at the Biograph Theater in Chicago, he begins to lay plans.

Suspicious that Hurt is up to something, Purvis accompanies the crew to Chicago. The shoot proves an exciting affair but Dillinger is blind-sided when he discovers, on location, that Jack Warner has assigned a seasoned, more experienced director to the film.

As the crew preps for the first take, Agent Hurt uses the general excitement and confusion to close in on his prey. In moments Dillinger will be a dead man. Purvis watches the Agent approaching—sees him reach for his pistol—and strikes. Though Purvis is armed, Hurt gets off the first shot, wounding the ex-agent. Dillinger tackles Hurt to the ground and beats him senseless. The Chicago Police intervene and Hurt is taken away.

Dillinger is heartened by Melvin Purvis’s recovery, but he has had it with Hollywood, the hypocrisy, and the lying backstabbers—who are worse than the criminals with whom he used to run. He bids Purvis farewell at the hospital and leaves on a much-needed long weekend.

A few days later, Purvis receives a call from Hoover, who while enraged, is strangely smug. Dillinger has robbed the Warner Brothers payroll truck for $600,000 and absconded to Mexico. Hoover is angered when Purvis begins laughing hysterically and flabbergasted when his former agent slams down the phone, hanging up on him.

Attached Talent: 

Executive Producer: Cindy Villarreal, Majestic Productions, LLC.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

FINALIST in the 2017 Screenplay Festival Competition.
QUARTER FINALIST in the 2018 Los Angeles International Screenplay Competition.
FINALIST in the 2018 Screencraft Cinematic Book Competition.
HONORABLE MENTION in the 2019 WriteMovies Spring Contest.
WINNER in the 2019 Scriptapalooza Contest.
QUARTER FINALIST in the 2019 Shore Scripts Feature Contest.
SEMI-FINALIST in the 2019 Chicago Screenplay Awards.
FINALIST (FANTASY) in the 2019 Emerging Screenwriters Genre Screenplay Competition.
FINALIST in the 2020 Filmmatic Screenplay Awards

Submitted: October 17, 2017
Last Updated: November 4, 2022

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The Writer: Bill Walker

A graduate of Emerson College's prestigious film school, Bill produced and directed his first feature film, Pawn , while still a student. After graduation, he co-founded Newbury Filmworks, Inc., an award-winning production company renowned for making high-quality corporate films and commercials. In 1990, Bill relocated to Los Angeles, and began a freelance story analysis career for various studios and independent production companies, while devoting his spare time to the writing of novels, short stories, and screenplays. He is also a highly-respected graphic designer, specializing in book and dust jacket design. He has worked on books by such luminaries as: Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson,... Go to bio

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