An iconic turn by James Cagney ('top of the world ma') makes up for a pretty creaky plot besides its overt Oedipal undertone. Cagney plays a distrustful brute of a criminal taken in by an undercover operative who is to bring the crook and his fence to justice. Overlong but mostly entertaining with good supporting turns by Virginia Mayo, Margaret Wycherly and Edmond O'Brien.
Cody Jarrett may very well be Cagney's most memorable. It is a character that sticks with you long after the film has ended. There were certainly evil characters before, but none seem to revel in the sadism as Cody does. Absolute classic film.
Raoul Walsh's WHITE HEAT (1949) is a transformational film in the gangster movie genre. Cagney's Cody Jarrett isn't just motivated by greed, he's a mentally ill sadist who kills for fun. The film falls almost exactly between PUBLIC ENEMY (1931) and BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967), and it marks an evolution point for the genre, w/ frank depictions of violence, complex characters & extensive location photography. (9/22/11 TCM)
idk... if I were watching this in 1949 I would've thought that ending an apolitical gangster movie with Hiroshima imagery was in terrible taste... it's in terrible taste now too... "I'm on top of the world Ma" my a**
Film d'une extrême solidité quant à son habile scénario et sa constante richesse dans les scènes d'action. Une composition phénoménale de James Cagney en gangster névropathe, amoureux de sa petite maman et mégalomane violent... www.cinefiches.com