The tight-lipped scowl, the hunched shoulders that rear themselves for the kill, the gargoyle speech, the belching gunfire of a trigger-happy paranoiac - one with a mother complex, no less - these are the standard and still-popular ingredients that constitute the James Cagney of White Heat. All that is missing is the grapefruit in a dame's physiog.

The tight-lipped scowl, the hunched shoulders that rear themselves for the kill, the gargoyle speech, the belching gunfire of a trigger-happy paranoiac – one with a mother complex, no less – these are the standard and still-popular ingredients that constitute the James Cagney of White Heat. All that is missing is the grapefruit in a dame’s physiog.

White Heat [suggested by a story by Virginia Kellogg] specifically is about a killer over whom only his mother can wield any influence. He heads a western gang, with his mother and his double-dealing wife along for company.

Cagney has an excellent supporting cast. Steve Cochran makes a good-looking, doublecrossing mobster’s aide whose ambition for the gang leadership, and the leader’s wife, ends in a rain of bullets. It’s a capable performance. Virginia Mayo has little to do except look sexy as the wife.

1949: Nomination: Best Motion Picture Story

White Heat

Production

Warner. Director Raoul Walsh; Producer Louis F. Edelman; Screenplay Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts; Camera Sid Hickox; Editor Owen Marks; Music Max Steiner; Art Director Edward Carrere

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1949. Running time: 114 MIN.

With

James Cagney Virginia Mayo Edmond O'Brien Steve Cochran Margaret Wycherly John Archer

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