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.
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
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>
If you like James Cagney and you like the film noirs of the late 1940s, well, it doesn't get much better than this.
Cagney, who was always great at playing wild gangsters, makes this film interesting all the way through its two hours. Despite being a half-century old, he was still not far from being at the top of his game. His character, Cody Jarrett, is one of the most famous of the many he portrayed on film, which is saying a lot.
Who could sit on his mother's lap and still look like a tough guy? Not many, but Cagney pulled it off here with his tough mama, played really well by Margaret Wycherly. This was a new type of role for Wycherly, who was used to doing Shakespeare. You wouldn't know it from this "Ma Jarrett" role!
The "hoods" in here are all realistic tough guys and gals. Cagney's two-faced wife is played well by Virginia Mayo, who plays the typical (for this genre) floozy blonde whom you can trust about as far as you can throw.
The final scene - "Top Of World, Ma!" - is one of the most famous in all of film history. It's nice to see a nice print of this out on DVD now and some of the features are very informative. Included is an interview with Mayo, who still looks pretty good for an old lady!
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