A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to rekindle his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
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>
It was James Cagney himself who had the idea of making Cody psychotic. Cagney attributed his performance to his father's alcoholic rages, which he had witnessed as a child, as well as someone that he had seen on a visit to a mental hospital. See more »
After the prison break, the men are in their cabin hideout when the phone rings. Cody gets angry and rips it off the wall with several violent tugs yet the wire never moves. Once the phone comes completely loose, it's apparent that the phone was never hooked up to the wire in the first place. See more »
Bridges the gap between film noir and WB's classic gangster flicks.
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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