Sunday, November 21, 2010
Movie review: White Heat
White Heat is a classic Warner Brother noir gangster film starring James Cagney as Cody Jarrett, a sociopathic gangster with a mother fixation. The film was released in 1946.
Jimmy Cagney was already a well-known actor and had starred in many gangster films, but White Heat is different because of the strong focus on the psychology of the gangster. Jarrett's father had died in an insane asylum, and Jarrett himself was prone to crippling headaches. Intensely devoted to his mother, he put her first in all things, even before his wife, and suffered a complete mental breakdown when he learned of her death. The classic line "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" is Cagney's reference to how his mother always encouraged him to make it big - to the top of the world.
The movie is classic noir, with rapid-fire tough-guy dialogue. It's also interesting to see the explanation and use of the cutting-edge tracking technology of the time, which both looks like B-movie sci fi and is so obviously the precursor of GPS tech.
I watched the movie because I like the classics, but mostly to fulfill watching the Top 100 Quotes movie list from my 2nd 101 Things in 1001 Days. I've fallen way behind and ought to catch up.