White Heat (1949)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  3 September 1949 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 19,567 users  
Reviews: 150 user | 81 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



(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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Complete credited cast:
Margaret Wycherly ...
John Archer ...
Wally Cassell ...
Trader Winston


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


Pick up the pieces folks, Jimmy's in action again! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 September 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alma negra  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


James Cagney took credit for having the idea for the scene in which Cody sits in his mother's lap. He said he told Raoul Walsh, "Let's see if we can get away with this," and Walsh agreed. But in his 1974 autobiography "Each Man in His Time" (which film writer Leonard Maltin has called "highly entertaining fiction with an occasional nod at the truth"), Walsh took credit for the idea and said the scene worked because Cagney and Margaret Wycherly made it so convincing. See more »


When Cody is in the shoot-out with the Police towards the end of the movie he is up high on a platform. Just before he shoots his revolver he closes his eyes and flinches before he pulls the trigger on his gun. See more »


Cody Jarrett: Made it, Ma! Top of the world!
See more »


Referenced in The Loser Takes All (2002) See more »


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

They don't make 'em like this anymore
12 September 1998 | by (Calfiornia, USA) – See all my reviews

The old saying, "They don't make 'em like they used to" fits this film to a T. Every other crazed-killer-goes-on-a-rampage movie ever made pales next to it. This is the best performance of Cagney's career (although, astoundingly enough, he didn't think much of the picture or his work in it, dismissing it as "just another gangster flicker"). Only Cagney could take a character like Cody Jarrett, a snarling, murderous monster with a mother fixation--someone you KNOW is going to get his at the end--and still almost make you wish he gets away. The film is one taut nerve from beginning to end. There's not a wasted moment in it; it starts out at full blast with the daring robbery of a mail train barreling through a mountain pass and doesn't let up. Performances are universally top-notch, from the stars on down to the extras. Far and away the finest film of director Raoul Walsh's long and distinguished career, this movie can take its place as not only the best gangster film ever made, but as one of the best films ever made, period.

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