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White Heat (1949)

8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 16,993 users  
Reviews: 140 user | 80 critic

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn

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(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Margaret Wycherly ...
Steve Cochran ...
John Archer ...
Wally Cassell ...
Cotton Valletti
...
Trader 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:

James Cagney Is Red Hot In "White Heat"! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 September 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Fúria Sanguinária  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ranked #4 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Gangster" in June 2008. See more »

Goofs

The character of "The Reader" is called "Herbert" by Cody in a scene in their cell and by his lawyer during a conversation in the visitors room. Yet when Evans is listening to the police radio broadcast giving the names of the convicts who escaped with Jarrett in the prison break, The Reader's name is given as "Michael Curtin". See more »

Quotes

Hank Fallon: I've been promised a vacation. You remember?
Philip Evans: Sorry, Hank, that's out.
Hank Fallon: Phil, look at me. College degree, lovable personality, and I spend most of my time in prison. An undercover specialist. Eight sentences in five years. Dannemora, Sing Sing, Leavenworth. I joined the department to put criminals behind bars, and here I am stir crazy.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tiovivo c. 1950 (2004) 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

Cagney's last great gangster film was his best...
15 June 2002 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

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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