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>
When Ma Jarrett is shopping for strawberries and is seen, the detective leaves the store carrying a bag of produce. It is difficult to determine whether he actually takes the bag into the phone booth with him, but there is nowhere outside the booth to place the bag, but there was a shelf inside old phone booths. Either way, when he exits the booth he no longer has the bag, and as soon as he ties the rag to the car bumper, he walks down the sidewalk, away from the booth where the bag may have been left. See more »
[while eating a chicken leg, Jarrett speaks to Parker in the trunk of the sedan]
How ya doin', Parker?
It's stuffy in here, I need some air.
Oh, stuffy, huh? I'll give ya a little air.
[pulls a gun from his pants and shoots four times into the trunk]
See more »
WHITE HEAT is the ultimate gangster melodrama with the great James Cagney at the peak of his powers. No one else in the cast is a slouch either--Virginia Mayo convinces me that Bette Davis was right when she suggested Mayo should have played Rosa Moline in BEYOND THE FOREST.
Edmond O'Brien as a doggedly determined cop pretending to be a prisoner to get close to Cagney, is excellent, as he always is in these kind of roles. Steve Cochran's dirty lowdown heel is a standout as the darkly handsome actor makes the most of every line, especially in his scenes opposite Virginia Mayo.
Director Raoul Walsh keeps the film spinning along at a fast clip, never once letting the rather uncomplicated plot lose any of its tension as he underscores the pathology of Cody Jarrett's character, a man obsessed by his conniving mother (Margaret Wycherly). Cagney's prison breakup scene is masterfully handled by the actor and staged for maximum effect. A rousing score by Max Steiner underlines all of the suspenseful action and there's an electrifying climax with Cagney's famous "Top of the world, ma!" before he meets his end.
James Cagney has never had a better gangster role and he's given brilliant support by an outstanding cast. By all means, worth viewing as one of the great Warner crime melodramas of the late '40s.
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