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White Heat (1949)

Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 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

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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

Taglines:

Searing the screen like the death-blast of a sub-machine gun ! ! ! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

3 September 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alma negra  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

If the surprise expressed by James Cagney's fellow inmates during "the telephone game" scene in the prison dining room appears real, it's because it is. Director Raoul Walsh didn't tell the rest of the cast what was about to happen, so Cagney's outburst caught them by surprise. In fact, Walsh himself didn't know what Cagney had planned; the scene as written wasn't working, and Cagney had an idea. He told Walsh to put the two biggest extras playing cons in the mess-hall next to him on the bench (he used their shoulders to boost himself onto the table) and to keep the cameras rolling no matter what. See more »

Goofs

In the opening scene the crooks are riding in a late-1940s Cadillac limo. Cadillacs of that vintage had standard rear fender skirts. As the car approaches us we see its left side and the left fender skirt is in place. Then the car goes around a bend and we see the right side. There is no fender skirt on the right rear fender. But a few seconds later the car arrives at the railroad track and stops right on the track. We're looking at the right side of the car and the fender skirt is in place as it should be. The two scenes may have been shot on two different days. Very trivial, of course, except for old car buffs. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Philip Evans: Cody Jarrett...
Hank Fallon: He finally got to the top of the world... and it blew right up in his face.
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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

 
Bridges the gap between film noir and WB's classic gangster flicks.
9 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

An extraordinary performance from James Cagney turns what might have been a by-the-numbers movie into a masterpiece. Everything revolves around Cagney. Edmond O'Brien, Virginia Mayo, and Margaret Wycherly are all superb, but when Cagney is off the screen you wait for him to come back.

Cody Jarrett (Cagney) is a desperate gangster, standing on the ledge at the end of the Public Enemy era. But 'White Heat' gives us a much more intricate psychological portrait of it's anti-hero protagonist than earlier gangster movies. Cody's dependence on his "Ma" is at the crux of the story; there is no finer example of the corrupted mother in film history, even Mrs. Bates takes a backseat to Ma Jarrett.

Throughout the film, events, and characters, conspire against Cody all leading to his delivering of one of most iconic lines ever concocted by Hollywood. I won't repeat it, you know what it is even if you've never seen the movie, but even with prior knowledge it's still an extraordinarily moving moment given the context in which it's delivered.


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