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Star Cars:Period cars take center stage in Dillinger movie

“Public Enemies,” starring Johnny Depp and directed by Michale Mann, will debut in the summer of 2009.

Marv Tomlinson has something to be proud of.

His car is a hero.

That means it was driven by a real movie industry employee.

In his case, the 1934 Ford coupe was driven by Johnny Depp in the making of the movie “Public Enemies.”

Tomlinson is the owner of two of the 200 cars that were used in the making of the movie, which recreates the activities of well-known 1930s gangster John Dillinger. Approximately 15 of those cars were shown at the Iola Old Car Show last month.

Tomlinson, of Poynette, Wis., is excited to talk about hiscars’ involvement in the film. His 1934 Ford was used in 28 days of filming, while a second vehicle belonging to him, a 1930 Model A sedan delivery, was on set for 11 days.

The Model A delivery holds fond memories for Tomlinson, whose father owned and operated a general store in Poynette. He remembers riding with his father on Saturdays as he delivered groceries from a Model A.

“So, when I bought this, I knew I had to put the name of my dad’s store on it,” he said during an early morning rain storm at the Iola show.

Although he was a vendor at the show, Tomlinson had the two vehicles in the “Public Enemies” display and enjoyed talking with many spectators about it.

During the filming, Tomlinson or his friend, Carl Peronto, usually drove the two vehicles. But there were times when Depp drove the ’34 coupe or another driver filled in.

In order to drive the cars, they needed to wear period clothing to fit in with the movie. If they didn’t have anything appropriate, he said they would report to wardrobe to be outfitted.

Tomlinson had intended to only participate in filming in Columbus, Wis., but that quickly changed as director Michael Mann seemed to really like the ’34 coupe.

After Columbus, Wis., the cars were used in filming in Manitowish Waters, Oshkosh and Beaver Dam, Wis. Tomlinson said he would not go to Chicago, as he was leery of taking the car to the city, but eventually agreed. Universal Pictures provided security at the garages where the cars were kept and made other provisions that made Tomlinson more comfortable with the situation.

The days of filming could be intense, as some days were long—24 hours straight. And, even though the cars were the stars, there was a bit of acting required by the drivers.

“You might have to act a certain way, swerve a bit in a chase or act a bit afraid, all to fit in with what was going on,” said Peronto, adding that he has a new appreciation for what goes into making a movie.

The filming in Chicago was during the night, with regular activity going on, including two real, unplanned, drive-by shootings.

“Public Enemies,” starring Johnny Depp and directed by Michale Mann, will debut in the summer of 2009.

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