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Encyclopedia > White Heat
White Heat
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by Louis F. Edelman
Written by Virginia Kellogg (story)
Ivan Goff and
Ben Roberts
Starring James Cagney,
Virginia Mayo,
Edmond O'Brien
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Sid Hickox
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) September 2, 1949 (U.S. release)
Running time 114 min.
Language English
IMDb profile

White Heat is a 1949 crime film starring James Cagney, Edmond O'Brien and Virginia Mayo. Directed by Raoul Walsh, it is considered one of the great gangster films and a classic film noir. Image File history File links White Heat This is a copyrighted poster. ... Raoul Walsh (March 11, 1887 – December 31, 1980) was an American film director. ... Virginia Kellogg (December 3, 1907 - April 8, 1981) was a two-time Oscar nominated film writer. ... Ivan Goff (April 17, 1910 - September 23, 1999) was an Australian screenwriter. ... James Cagney was part of the Legends of Hollywood USPS stamp series. ... Virginia Mayo, 1944 Virginia Mayo (November 30, 1920 - January 17, 2005) was an American film actress. ... OBrien in D.O.A. Edmond OBrien (September 10, 1915 – May 9, 1985) was an American film actor who is perhaps best remembered for his role in D.O.A.. Born in New York, New York, OBrien made his film debut in 1938, and gradually built... Maximilian Raoul Walter Steiner (born May 10, 1888 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary; died December 28, 1971 in Hollywood, California) was an Austrian-American composer of music for films. ... Sidney Hickox (July 15, 1895 - May 16, 1982) was a film cinematographer. ... Warner Bros. ... September 2 is the 245th day of the year (246th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... See also: 1948 in film 1949 1950 in film 1940s in film 1950s in film years in film film Events Top grossing films North America Adams Rib Jolson Sings Again Pinky I Was a Male War Bride, The Snake Pit, Joan of Arc Academy Awards Best Picture: All the... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ... A crime film, in its most general sense, is a film that deals with crime, criminal justice and the darker side of human nature. ... James Cagney was part of the Legends of Hollywood USPS stamp series. ... OBrien in D.O.A. Edmond OBrien (September 10, 1915 – May 9, 1985) was an American film actor who is perhaps best remembered for his role in D.O.A.. Born in New York, New York, OBrien made his film debut in 1938, and gradually built... Virginia Mayo, 1944 Virginia Mayo (November 30, 1920 - January 17, 2005) was an American film actress. ... Raoul Walsh (March 11, 1887 – December 31, 1980) was an American film director. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... This still from The Big Combo (1955) demonstrates the visual style of film noir at its most extreme. ...



Cody Jarrett (James Cagney) is a ruthless, deranged criminal responsible for two murder-filled robberies. He is overly attached to his equally crooked and determined mother, 'Ma' Jarrett (Margaret Wycherly). When he has one of his splitting headaches, she gives him a drink, with the toast "Top of the world." With the police closing in on him, he confesses to a lesser crime and gets a short sentence of one to three years. Margaret Wycherly (26 October 1881 - 6 June 1956 was a British actress. ...

'Big Ed' Somers (Steve Cochran), Cody's ambitious, right hand man, has designs on both Cody's gang and his treacherous wife Verna (Virginia Mayo), so he hires a con, Roy Parker (Paul Guilfoyle), to kill him. In the prison workplace, Parker arranges to drop a heavy piece of machinery on Jarrett, but cellmate Vic Pardo (film noir veteran Edmond O'Brien) pushes him out of the way and saves his life. When Ma visits, she insists she'll take care of Big Ed herself, despite Jarrett's attempts to dissuade her. He begins to worry and decides to break out. The day of the escape, he learns that she's dead (shot in the back by Verna when she confronted Big Ed, though Cody never finds out) and goes berserk in the mess hall. Actor Steve Cochran in What You Need (Twilight Zone episode 1959) Film actor Steve Cochran (May 25, 1917 - June 15, 1965) was born Robert Alexander Cochran in Eureka, California. ...

When Cody escapes, he takes Vic and Roy along, forcing Roy into the trunk of the getaway car. Later, when Roy complains "It's stuffy, I need some air.", Cody replies "Oh, stuffy, huh? I'll give ya a little air." and "creates" some airholes by emptying his gun into the trunk.

Once out, Cody invites Vic to join his gang both out of gratitude and a genuine liking for his fellow escapee. After dispatching Big Ed, he plans another robbery. The gang targets a company payroll, but is trapped in a chemical plant by police tipped off by Vic, who is actually an undercover treasury agent. Cody climbs the stairs to the top of a gigantic storage tank. When he is hit by a police sniper, he starts shooting holes in the tank, shouting "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" just before it goes up in a spectacular explosion. Look up Undercover in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


The character of Cody Jarrett was based on New York murderer Francis Crowley, who engaged in a pitched battle with police in the spring of 1931 at the age of 19. Executed on January 21, 1932, his last words were: "Send my love to my mother."

Critical reaction

Critical reaction to the film was positive, and today it's considered a classic. Tim Dirk on the website Greatfilms.org writes that the film may have also inspired many other successful films:

"This classic film anticipated the heist films of the early 50s (for example John Huston's 1950 The Asphalt Jungle and Stanley Kubrick's 1956 The Killing), accentuated the semi-documentary style of films of the period (the 1948 The Naked City), and contained film-noirish elements, including the shady black and white cinematography, the femme fatale character, and the twisted psyche of the criminal gangster."

It was also part of Time's all-time 100 list. Statue of John Huston, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico John Marcellus Huston (August 5, 1906 – August 28, 1987) was an American film director and actor. ... The Asphalt Jungle is a 1950 film noir directed by John Huston. ... Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director and producer, generally considered one of the most innovative and influential filmmakers of cinema history. ... The Killing (1956) is a film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel Clean Break by Lionel White. ... Semidocumentary is book, movie, or television program presenting a fictional story that incorporates many factual details or actual events. ... The Naked City is a 1948 black-and-white film noir directed by Jules Dassin. ... This still from The Big Combo (1955) demonstrates the visual style of film noir at its most extreme. ... A black-and-white portrait. ... Cinematography, English render of the French cimématographie, is the discipline of making lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for the cinema. ... Mata Hari, exotic dancer and convicted spy, made her name synonymous with femme fatale during WWI. A femme fatale is a stock character, usually a villainous woman, who deceptively misleads and ensnares the hapless hero and/or other males in order to gain some end they would not freely help... In 2005, Time Magazine film critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel compiled a list of the 100 greatest movies of all time. ...


  • One of the convicts who passes along Jarrett's request to find out how his mother is, and then returns the information of her death, is played by legendary athlete Jim Thorpe. The scene was parodied in the film Johnny Dangerously.
  • Weird Al Yankovic's music video to "Don't Download This Song" includes an obvious reference to the famous "top of the world" finale from this film.
  • An audio outtake from the movie is on a track of the Madonna CD "True Blue" just before the song "White Heat" same as the film.

Jacobus Franciscus Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox Nation: Wa-Tho-Huk) (May 28, 1887 – March 28, 1953) is considered one of the most versatile athletes in modern sports. ... Johnny Dangerously is 1984 comedy spoof of 1930s crime/gangster movies. ... Alfred Matthew Weird Al Yankovic (born October 23, 1959) is an American musician, parodist and accordion player. ... Dont Download This Song is the first single from Weird Al Yankovics 12th studio album Straight Outta Lynwood, which was released on September 26, 2006. ...


Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
White Heat
  • Verna: "Cody, my radio won't work."
    Cody: "Whuddya want for it, unemployment insurance?"
  • Cody (taunting Ed, his second-in-command): "Big Ed ... great big Ed. Y'know why they call 'im that? 'Cause his ideas are big. One day he's gonna get a really big one ... about me. And it'll be his last."

The American Film Institute (AFI) is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act. ... Part of the AFI 100 Years. ... Image File history File links Wikiquote-logo-en. ... Wikiquote is a sister project of Wikipedia, using the same MediaWiki software. ...


The movie was nominated for a Best Writing, Motion Picture Story at the Oscars and was nominated for Best Motion Picture at the Edgar Allan Poe Awards. Hello Steve. ...

In 2003, the National Film Preservation Board deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. The National Film Registry is the registry of films selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
white: Definition and Much More from Answers.com (1949 words)
White is commonly the colour of snow and ice, though these often have a blue tint, even when not contaminated with other things that may change their color.
White is often associated with Conservatism (as opposed to Communism), particularly in the years following World War I, with civil wars fought between "Reds" and "Whites", for instance the Civil War in Russia and the Civil War in Finland.
A white paper can be an authoritative report on a major issue, as by a team of experts; a government report outlining policy; or a short treatise whose purpose is to educate (contrast position paper) industry customers.
White Heat (1507 words)
White Heat is a classic gangster and was directed, as I said, by Raul Walsh in 1949.
The white hot explosion, which follows not only marks Jarrett^s ascension to the tragic, but equates his madness with the end of the world, is the classical sign of the figurative demise of the classic gangster hero.
White heat is clearly set in a contested space where, as Shatz said: ^forces of social order and anarchy are locked in an epic and unending struggle^ (Shatz, 1948: 83), although is represented in a different way than his predecessors, he appertains to the ^rural gangsters^.
  More results at FactBites »



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