February 20, 2017
Review #907: White Heat.
James Cagney (Arthur "Cody" Jarrett), Virginia Mayo (Verna Jarrett), Edmond O'Brien (Hank Fallon / Vic Pardo), Margaret Wycherly ("Ma" Jarrett), Steve Cochran ("Big Ed" Somers), Ford Rainey (Zuckie Hommel), John Archer (Philip Evans), Wally Cassell ("Cotton" Valletti), Fred Clark (Daniel "The Trader" Winston), Ian MacDonald ("Bo" Creel), and Paul Guilfoyle (Roy Parker) Directed by Raoul Walsh (#399 - The Thief of Bagdad (1924))
This review has been in the making for a long time, if you can believe that. Ever since I bought the film from my local Blockbuster over two years ago, this movie has been on the backburner of things I wanted to cover, but its time hadn't quite aligned with me, until now. When it comes to film noirs and gangster movies, White Heat certainly does not disappoint, being one of the seminal movies of its time. Cagney is a good chunk of why the movie works so well, portraying the instability of this villain without any sort of fakery nor too much overblown nature to him. The scene with him on his screen mother Wycherly's lap is also a good scene in showing the strange nature and dynamic of the two that plays off well with a movie that doesn't play to easiest gangster types. The scene where he reacts to a death personal to him is also quite exceptional in how he conveys the agony of that moment without stock elements in any way. Mayo does a fine job as the femme fatale, having good chemistry with Cagney along with being respectable with her charms. O'Brien is quite exceptional in his role by managing to size up well with Cagney without being overwrought with too much hero hokeyness. The rest of the cast does a good job in their roles, serving their purposes with the right kind of competency. The cinematography is good, having the right balances of color (for a black-and-white film) and picture. This is a movie with the right kind of tension and action, where even though you know how movies of the time might roll you still manage to really invest in how the movie plays itself out, owing to its great cast, all starting with James Cagney. I highly recommend this movie.
Overall, I give it 10 out of 10 stars.