White Heat (1949)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Gangster Film, Crime Thriller  |   Run Time - 114 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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In later years, James Cagney regarded White Heat with a combination of pride and regret; while satisfied with his own performance, he tended to dismiss the picture as a "cheap melodrama." Seen today, White Heat stands as one of the classic crime films of the 1940s, containing perhaps Cagney's best bad-guy portrayal. The star plays criminal mastermind Cody Jarrett, a mother-dominated psychotic who dreams of being on "top of the world." Inadvertently leaving clues behind after a railroad heist, Jarrett becomes the target of the feds, who send an undercover agent (played by Edmond O'Brien) to infiltrate the Jarrett gang. While Jarrett sits in prison on a deliberately trumped-up charge (he confesses to one crime to provide himself an alibi for the railroad robbery), he befriends O'Brien, who poses as a hero-worshipping hood who's always wanted to work with Jarrett. Busting out of prison with O'Brien, Jarrett regroups his gang to mastermind a "Trojan horse" armored-car robbery.

Characteristics

Moods

Keywords

gangster, mother, federal-agent, robbery, prison-escape, psychopath

Attributes

High Artistic Quality, High Historical Importance