Re-Watching the Classics: White Heat

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White Heat is a classic and should be watched by any film nut. This is directed by Raoul Walsh who did several noir films.  We have James Cagney at his best as psychopath Cody Jarrett.  Our top billed femme fatale is Virginia Mayo who uses her beauty gets men to do whatever she wants.

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Well let’s be honest, our protagonists true femme fatale isn’t his beautiful wife, it’s his mom, played by Margaret Wycherly.  He will do anything for her, from robbing trains, to killing cohorts, to going to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

This story starts with a train robbery, and it does not go as planned.  The heat is on and to get out of it Jarrett admits to a lesser crime that took place up north.  If he did that crime, he couldn’t have done the much worse train robbery.  Jarrett goes to jail, but the police are on to him.  They send Hank Fallon in undercover as the hood by the name of Vic Pardo.  This character is played by Edmond O’Brien, our good guy hero?  Pardo quickly be-friends Jarrett and they soon plan an escape.  In the mean time his wife is siding with his number two-man, Big Ed Somers, played by Steve Cochran.  They conspire to kill Ma Jarrett and soon do.

Will Jarrett and his pals escape prison?  Will he have his revenge on those that took his mom away from him?  Will the gang be able to overcome their differences and pull off another heist?  Will they figure out Pardo is really Fallon?

This movie is a must see for any film noir fan, Cagney fan or movie fan in general.  “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” maybe only #18 on the top 100 lines in movie history by the American Film Institute, but lets face it, this is the best line in film noir history if not all of film history.

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If you have not seen this yet, go do it right now!  Those that have, what did you think of this film?

Favorite Tidbit:  The relationship between Jarrett and his mom are based on real life bank robbers, Ma Baker and her boys.

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Review ‘G’ Men

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G Men stars noir bad ass James Cagney in the role of “Brick”.  A new lawyer and new recruit for the F.B.I., Brick must go through training to become a Special Agent.  This film was not liked by J. Edgar Hoover at first, because Brick was insubordinate in part of the film.  He finally approved the script and was very happy with its huge success.  G Men made over a million dollars at the box office, a huge return back in 1935.  This film also portrays two incidents that where true in F.B.I.’s early history and where both pivotal in the formation and popularity of them.  The first is the “Kansas City Massacre” where the F.B.I. were unable to have guns and one agent died along with 3 police and Frank “Jelly” Nash, who they were transporting.  The second indecent was the famous shot out at the lodge against John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson and their gang.  The lodge shooting was a big scene also in the more true telling of the story, Public Enemies in 2009.  The other interesting thing about this movie is that the good guys, the F.B.I. Agents could use Tommy guns and other automatic weapons while the gangsters used revolvers and lever-action rifles.  This was due to censorship at the time. This also starred Margaret Lindsay as the sister of Brick’s boss as well as Brick’s love interest.  Ann Dvorak plays the wife of one of the gangsters, but helps the G Men catch them.  Robert Armstrong plays his usual hard nose character and boss to Brick.  This is a fun film noir with some historic events portrayed, and lets face it, Cagney is great.  This was also re-released in 1948 with a new intro, here is the trailer for that with most of that new intro: