8.2/10
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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.

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Writers:

Ivan Goff (screen play), Ben Roberts (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:
James Cagney ... Cody Jarrett
Virginia Mayo ... Verna Jarrett
Edmond O'Brien ... Hank Fallon aka Vic Pardo
Margaret Wycherly ... Ma Jarrett
Steve Cochran ... Big Ed Somers
John Archer ... Philip Evans
Wally Cassell ... Cotton Valletti
Fred Clark ... The Trader aka 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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 September 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alma negra See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's line "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" was voted as the #18 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). See more »

Goofs

At the motel Cody says to his wife and his Ma, "We'll leave the sedan, that's the car they've be look-in' for.... I'll get the coupe", but the gang doesn't have any coupes. The Mercury they leave in is a sedan too. See more »

Quotes

Cody Jarrett: Maybe I am nuts. Let's go in and have drink.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Fugitive Alien (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
a boy's best friend is his mother
15 August 2001 | by telegonusSee all my reviews

James Cagney lights up the screen in all respects in this violent and hard-driving film. There's nary a dull moment with Jimmy on hand, whether having his mother ease his migraine tantrums by rubbing his head or shooting a fellow gang member through the trunk of his car in order to give him a little air. Raoul Walsh vigorously directs this movie with remarkable gusto given that he was over sixty at the time and at at this point in his career had nothing to prove.

Cagney's character of Cody Jarrett is shown to be a madman at the start of the film. There's no need for his confederates to engage in a little is-he-or-isn't-he chitchat regarding his sanity a la The Caine Mutiny. They know he's mad. Even his mother knows he's mad. No matter. Cody continues on his crime spree, and his gang stays loyal to him, if only for the consequences of leaving him being to frightening to contemplate. He has a girl, who two-times him with another gang member. A federal agent who infiltrates the gang and becomes a surrogate mother by easing his headaches in the same manner, also betrays him, though it's his job to do so. Only Ma Jarrett, it seems, could be trusted.

One of the many charms of this film is its absolute refusal to make a statement, which wasn't Raoul Walsh's bag anyway; and screenwriters Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts, though they delve into Freud a bit, don't get too heavy over Cagney's psychopathology. They just accept it, show us its various sides, and leave it at that. This movie is a far cry from other films made around the same time, was highly popular when first released, and remains so to this day. It is not quite film noir, being too bright and rational. Nor is it a study in perverse psychology, despite its main character. For all the location filming it is no semi-documentary in the manner of House On 92nd Street. It is basically a lively action picture whose makers, taking a cue from Hiroshima bomb, decided to end their movie with a bang, making their show a fine example of good, clean apocalyptic fun.


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