White Heat (1949)

<strong class="MovieTitle">White Heat</strong> (1949)

(On Cable TV, February 2018) Most reviews boil down to reasons why viewers would want to see a film (or not) and trying to comment on older movies usually filters that answer through a contemporary perspective: what would viewers enjoy (or not) from this film considering today’s perspective? For White Heat, the three main points are; a solid crime story, interesting period detail and James Cagney. White Heat presents the last years of a career criminal, as he gets arrested, goes to prison, escapes and hatches a new plan. The finale is explosive, with “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” still a reference for movie buffs. Still, the story itself is well crafted and Cagney’s performance is truly enjoyable. The psychodynamics of his character’s attachment to his mom is still rich fodder for crime movie inspiration, along with some femme fatale material, a police informer, a gripping prison mess hall scene and a steadily engrossing story. Nearly seventy years later, there is also a bit of fascination in seeing White Heat take on techno-thriller plot devices, notably in explaining the minutia of radio tracking. It all amounts to a solid and satisfying crime thriller that holds up even today.

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