In between these normal events, he seduces his maid (Annie Girardot), who may be on the clock for solely that reason, and shoots his pill-popping wife (Anita Pallenberg, former Keith Richards shagger) three times with a gun that may have belonged to Public Enemy No. 1, John Dillinger, seen in newsreel clips. (If that sounds like a spoiler, it isn’t--it’s a widely accepted movie rule that, if a gun is introduced in the first act, it will be fired by the third).
That is the basic outline of Dillinger Is Dead. Those that find it to be all so tedious (as it is at times on first viewing) and about absolutely nothing (it’s plotless, but not without ideas) will find the scene where Glauco momentarily watches paint dry a perfect summation of the film.
The rest of us wonder, then, what is it about? Maybe, as one character suggests early in the film, “a well-drawn metaphor could be very informative.” Maybe. It could be about a man taking refuge into his past, as when Glauco coltishly interacts with his home movies. Or, it could be a misogynistic fantasy about offing your wife with society’s most flagrant phallic symbol and skipping town. Or, maybe it’s just a play about a dissatisfied industrial designer, the revolver he finds, and his rebirth.
Interview with Italian film historian Adriano Aprà (20:52): Here, the film historian heaps grand praise on Ferreri, ranking him with Federico Fellini, Roberto Rosselini, and Luchino Visconti as the greatest of Italian filmmakers. Aprà also notes the themes and the numerous references to Italian cinema in Dillinger is Dead.
Le cercle de minuit (13:14): These excerpts from a roundtable discussion, recorded at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997 just days after Marco Ferreri’s death, find filmmakers Francesco Rosi and Bernardo Bertolucci and film historian Aldo Tassone discussing the work of Ferreri. Also included are interview clips with the subject.
Also included with this Criterion Collection DVD is a 32-page booklet with an essay titled “Apocalypse Now” by Michael Joshua Rowin and interviews with Marco Ferreri.