White Heat

1949

Action / Crime / Drama / Film-Noir

181
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 97%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 93%
IMDb Rating 8.1 10 29,142

Synopsis


Downloaded times
October 12, 2020

Director

Cast

Edmond O'Brien as McClosky - aka 'Mac'
James Cagney as Cody Jarett
Sid Melton as Russell Hughes
720p.BLU
1.02 GB
1280*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
114 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ccthemovieman-1 10 / 10 / 10

Who But Cagney Could Pull This Off?

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!

Reviewed by nycritic 10 / 10 / 10

A Mother's Son

No one but James Cagney could play infamous gangsters like he could. Already famous for smashing a half-grapefruit on Mae Clarke's face in THE PUBLIC ENEMY, he had an appropriate bracket as another low-life in Raoul Walsh's ultra-gritty crime caper WHITE HEAT. Breaking ground for even more creepy criminals, Cagney plays Cody Jarrett, a man who wants to be on 'top of the world' and is dominated to incestuous excess by his she-wolf of a mother, Ma Jarrett (modeled on Ma Barker and played to excellence by Margaret Wycherly). These two are not people you would want to cross: Cody is capable of acts of extreme violence, and Ma Jarrett will go to great lengths to protect her son. She has even less fear then he. Both are the equivalent of Bonny and Clyde without the romantic liaison. Such so that the Feds decide to keep an intense eye on them by sending one of theirs, Hank Fallon, disguised as a common crook Vic Pardo. Both land in jail and an uneasy but increasingly dependent friendship develops, one that gets closer when Ma Jarrett dies and Cody simply goes bonkers -- in losing her, he has lost himself and this now bumps Fallon a notch closer to Cody who turns the tables of trust on him. Both bust out of prison to perform another money-making heist that has quite a different outcome than originally planned. The power of WHITE HEAT lies less on duplicities and double-crosses: other than the revelation that Cody's own wife Verna (Virginia Mayo, electrifying) was the person who offed his mother (off-screen), what matters if the relationship that the two men develop. Ed O'Brien as Fallon/Pardo seems slimier at times than James Cagney's Cody Jarrett -- his character is used to this sort of thing, living among criminals, playing the undercover cop -- and he knows all the stops to trump Cagney when the time comes. His role is actually more difficult than Cagney's because he has to underplay his part and walk on eggshells while around him, and we know that ultimately it will be revealed who he is and that Cagney will not be a happy camper at realizing this overwhelming betrayal. Featuring one of the best endings (and most quoted movie lines in film history), WHITE HEAT has gone to universal acclaim and has been referenced in its template when tackling crime dramas.

Reviewed by hitchcockthelegend 10 / 10 / 10

I told you to keep away from that radio. If that battery is dead it'll have company.

White Heat is directed by Raoul Walsh and adapted by Ivan Goff & Ben Roberts from a story suggested by Virginia Kellogg. It stars James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Steve Cochran & Margaret Wycherly. Music is by Max Steiner and photography by Sidney Hickox. Cody Jarrett (Cagney) is the sadistic leader of a violent and ruthless gang of thieves. Unnervingly devoted to his mother (Wycherly) and afflicted by terrible headaches since childhood, Cody is one bad day away from being a full blown psychotic. That day is coming soon, and everyone in his way is sure to pay. Around the time of White Heat being released, two things were evident as regards its star and its themes. One is that it had been a long time since a gangster, and a truly vicious one at that, had thrilled or frightened a cinema audience. The Production Code and a change in emotional value due to World War II had seen the genuine career gangster all but disappear. Second thing of note is that Cagney was stung by the disappointing performance of Cagney Productions. So after having left Warner Brothers in 1942, the diminutive star re-signed for the studio and returned to the genre he had almost made his own in the 30s. He of course had some say in proceedings, such as urging the makers to ensure a crime does not pay motif, but all told he needed a hit and the fit with Raoul Walsh and the psychotic Jarrett was perfect. It may not be his best acting performance, but it's certainly his most potent and arguably it's the cream of the gangster genre crop. The inspiration for the film is mostly agreed to be the real life criminals: Ma Barker, Arthur "Doc" Barker and Francis Crowley. A point of worth being that they were all 30s criminals since White Heat very much looks and feels like a 30s movie. Cagney for sure is older (he was 50 at the time) and more rotund, but he and the film have the presence and vibrancy respectively to keep it suitably in period and in the process becoming the last of its kind. White Heat is that rare old beast that manages to have a conventional action story at its core, yet still be unique in structure and portrayal of the lead character. Neatly crafted by Walsh around four Cody Jarrett "moments" of importance, the Oedipal tones playing out between Cody and his Ma make for an uneasy experience, but even then Walsh and the team pull a rabbit out the hat by still garnering sympathy for the crazed protagonist. It sounds nutty, but it really is one of the big reasons why White Heat is the great film that it is. Another reason of course is "those" special scenes, two of which are folklore cinematic legends now. Note legend number 1 as Cody, incarcerated, receives bad news, the reaction is at once terrifying and pitiful (note the extras reaction here since they didn't know what was coming). Legend number 2 comes with "that" ending, forever quotable and as octane ignited finale's go it takes some beating. As brilliant and memorable as Cagney is, it's not, however, a one man show. He's superbly directed by Walsh, with the great director maintaining a pace and rhythm to match Cody Jarrett's state of mind. And with Steiner (Angels With Dirty Faces/Casablanca/Key Largo) scoring with eerie strands and strains, and Hickox (The Big Sleep/To Have and Have Not) adding noir flourishes for realism and atmosphere, it's technically a very smart picture. The supporting cast in the face of Cagney's barnstorming come up with sterling work. Wycherly is glorious as the tough and tetchy Ma Jarrett and O'Brien is needed to be spot on in the film's second most important role; a role that calls for him to not only be the first man Cody has ever trusted, but also as some sort of weird surrogate mother! Mayo isn't called on to do much, but she's gorgeous and sexy and fatalistic in sheen. While Cochran holds his end up well as the right hand man getting ideas above his station. White Heat is as tough as they come, a gritty pulsating psycho drama that has many visual delights and scenes that are still as powerful and as shocking some 60 odd years since it first hit the silver screen. What is often forgotten, when yet another clip of the brilliant ending is shown on TV, is that it's also a weird and snarky piece of film. All told, it is blisteringly hot. 10/10

Read more IMDb reviews

0 Comments

Be the first to leave a comment