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White Heat (1949)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 3 September 1949 (USA)
A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn

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(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Margaret Wycherly ...
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John Archer ...
Wally Cassell ...
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Trader Winston
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Storyline

Cody Jarrett is the sadistic leader of a ruthless gang of thieves. Afflicted by terrible headaches and fiercely devoted to his 'Ma,' Cody is a volatile, violent, and eccentric leader. Cody's top henchman wants to lead the gang and attempts to have an 'accident' happen to Cody, while he is running the gang from in jail. But Cody is saved by an undercover cop, who thereby befriends him and infiltrates the gang. Finally, the stage is set for Cody's ultimate betrayal and downfall, during a big heist at a chemical plant. Written by Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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Pick up the pieces folks, Jimmy's in action again! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

3 September 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alma negra  »

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This marked the first time James Cagney had worked for Warner Bros. since Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). "Movies should be entertaining, not blood baths," he said in the last days of his Warners contract. "I'm sick of carrying a gun and beating up women." He formed his own production company with his brother William, and for the next five years their pictures were distributed by United Artists. There were, however, only four films in those years, none of them very successful financially. So Cagney returned to Warner Brothers with a degree of autonomy (his production company remained intact) and made the kind of "blood bath" he had turned his back on seven years earlier. "It's what people want me to do," he grumbled. "Someday, though, I'd like to make just one picture kids could go see." See more »

Goofs

When Pardo is in line to get his injection, he starts a fight to get off the line and avoid being recognized by Bo Creel. But starting the fight draws more attention to him than if he'd remained quietly on line, and increased his chances of being spotted and identified. Also, the inmate giving the shots was looking at the arms of those on line, not their faces, as they moved passed him. See more »

Quotes

Cody Jarrett: To me, you're a face and a number, and let's keep it that way.
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Connections

Spoofed in The Replacements: Tasumi Unmasked (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Five O'Clock Whistle
(1940) (uncredited)
Music by Josef Myrow, Kim Gannon & Gene Irwin
Played on a radio
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User Reviews

Cagney's last great gangster film was his best...
15 June 2002 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

WHITE HEAT is the ultimate gangster melodrama with the great James Cagney at the peak of his powers. No one else in the cast is a slouch either--Virginia Mayo convinces me that Bette Davis was right when she suggested Mayo should have played Rosa Moline in BEYOND THE FOREST.

Edmond O'Brien as a doggedly determined cop pretending to be a prisoner to get close to Cagney, is excellent, as he always is in these kind of roles. Steve Cochran's dirty lowdown heel is a standout as the darkly handsome actor makes the most of every line, especially in his scenes opposite Virginia Mayo.

Director Raoul Walsh keeps the film spinning along at a fast clip, never once letting the rather uncomplicated plot lose any of its tension as he underscores the pathology of Cody Jarrett's character, a man obsessed by his conniving mother (Margaret Wycherly). Cagney's prison breakup scene is masterfully handled by the actor and staged for maximum effect. A rousing score by Max Steiner underlines all of the suspenseful action and there's an electrifying climax with Cagney's famous "Top of the world, ma!" before he meets his end.

James Cagney has never had a better gangster role and he's given brilliant support by an outstanding cast. By all means, worth viewing as one of the great Warner crime melodramas of the late '40s.


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