The sound is nice and the lighting is swell on “Dillinger,” which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on ABC. But that’s about as pleasant as you can be about this new rerunning of legend, circa 1933-34, of the raucous bank robber John Dillinger.
There’s a lot of bluster and blazing tommy guns from the David Wolper group, but that doesn’t obscure bad casting. Whoever put in Mark Harmon as John Dillinger and Will Patton as fevered G-man Melvin Purvis ought to be forced to watch the show.
Neither assignment is right. Better the roles had been reversed. Patton, a strong actor with emotional range, might have found the menace in the daring Dillinger. Harmon had some eerie moments in a previous role as serial killer Ted Bundy, but it’s hard to digest him as a flamboyant leader of a gang.
Of course, that wouldn’t resolve the problem of Rupert Wainwright’s direction, which amounts mostly to twisted camera angles, or Paul F. Edwards’ script, which is so much twaddle about how John had a bad childhood.
The only one who seemed to have much fun on this nostalgic journey was costume designer Helen Butler, who dressed her cast with the hottest clothes of the day, or any day, for that matter. When the gang gets together and goofs around, it looks like some sort of Dockers commercial. Curious stuff--finding a fashion statement out of the Depression.