By Jeni Ashton, Associate Curator, National Law Enforcement Museum
When I was looking through our collections catalog this morning, I came across this newspaper article from April 23, 1934, titled, “Dillinger Again Escapes Police under Gun Fire, 4 Killed, 3 Shot” (above). The article describes the chase, shootout, and escape of Dillinger and many of his cohorts, and notes the death of FBI Special Agent W. Carter Baum in Eagle River, WI.
I was happy to find that this scene and Special Agent Baum’s death are shown in the “Public Enemies” movie. In this specific scene, this seems to be a small step forward in making a somewhat accurate historical blockbuster movie, even if there are moments in the film that are slightly exaggerated.
Our intern Anna found that Special Agent Baum left behind a wife and two daughters. Anna wrote, “Can you imagine becoming a single mother in the middle of the Great Depression?” This question made me pause for a second. The movie did give a nod to law enforcement; but, it might have been nice if the movie showed the effects of Dillinger’s rampaging across the Midwest. It could have given the law enforcement officials a little more depth, and hopefully gotten the viewers to think beyond the fast action bad guy stuff.