8.2/10
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175 user 74 critic

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.

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Writers:

Ivan Goff (screen play), Ben Roberts (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Top Rated Movies #227 | 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:

Searing the screen like the death-blast of a sub-machine gun ! ! ! 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 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,300,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,534
See more on IMDbPro »

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

Based on a 1923 train robbery by the D'Autrement brothers. A month before it was released, Paramount released Special Agent (1949), a film based on the same robbery but keeping a bit closer to the actual facts. See more »

Goofs

In the machine shop, after Parker decides to drop a motor from an overhead crane onto Cody he moves the scrap metal barrel to the middle of the aisle. There is scrap piled toward the top of the barrel but in the next shot of the barrel it appears empty with no metal showing. See more »

Quotes

Verna Jarrett: It's always "somebody tipped them." Never "the cops are smart."
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also Available in a Colorized Version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Werewolf (1998) 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

 
It ain't subtle, but it's highly entertaining.
2 August 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

After a long absence from gangster films, Jimmy Cagney returned in WHITE HEAT. However, it's not just a typical gangster film as Cagney plays one of the craziest killers in film history--and the final product is incredibly entertaining.

Cagney plays a combination momma's boy and antisocial killing machine. What makes this more interesting is his unusually close relationship with his mother--who follows him as he goes on bank jobs around the country. While he has a girlfriend (Virginia Mayo), he's so attached to Mom that he cannot live without her. Heck, I almost expected to see him in bed with her--they were that close and it was very creepy. It was like Freud's idea of the Oedipal Complex except Cagney DID succeed in seducing and capturing his mother! Later in the film, Cagney's mother is killed--after which, Cagney becomes a lot more imbalanced. In addition to this, he has periodic blinding headaches and it's almost comical to see him writhing in pain one minute and blasting some guy for practically no reason the next!

After this gang evades the police for some time, a special agent (Edmund O'Brien) insinuates himself into the gang--becoming a trusted friend of Cagney in the process. Eventually, of course, the gang is captured and Cagney is confronted by a bazillion law enforcement officers in the most spectacular ending of any film noir picture in history. You just have to see it to believe it!

Overall, a great script with lots of interesting psychological components. While Cagney's performance isn't the lest bit subtle, it certainly is very entertaining. For any lover of noir, this is a must-see and one of the most memorable films in movie history.


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