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From the trial of the survivors, we flash back to amoral crook Ralph Cotter's violent prison break, assisted by Holiday Carleton, sister of another prisoner...who doesn't make it. Soon Ralph manipulates the grieving Holiday into his arms, and two crooked cops follow her into his pocket. Ralph's total lack of scruple brings him great success in a series of robberies. But his easy conquest of gullible heiress Margaret Dobson proves more dangerous to him than any crime... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
If they made this movie today, they would call it "White Heat 2: Cody Lives". Cagney is as ruthless as in White Heat, but here, his pathology is under control, (brain surgery after his Oil Tank "accident" in Part 1?) so he can blackmail cops and smoothly double-cross his erstwhile moll while skimming wherever else and whenever he can. In the first couple of minutes of the film, he shoots a fellow prison escapee "just because". His sense of loyalty to his supposed accomplices goes downhill from there.
Barbara Payton is a more resonant and convincing actress than Virginia Mayo, and it can be argued that her strength as an actress creates much of the tension here: We want to see her get wise to the Cagney character's dirty game, and also succeed in avenging her brother's death (the fellow escapee shot in the beginning of the film). And unlike the case of Virginia Mayo's unsympathetic moll in White Heat, we actually do root for her to gain a comeuppance against the Cagney character. But we're torn. Cagney has so much natural charisma, even when playing a snake, that we can never entirely want him to get his. There is a sense of justice and inevitability to the ending. But there remains the nagging hurt feeling at what Cagney-- with all that bristling energy and industry and charisma-- COULD have accomplished if he hadn't succumbed to the dark side. Ten stars. See it!
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