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: Highway 301

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What are we suppose to do?  Sit here like mummies?

Why don’t you do something about your face, that should keep you busy for a couple of hours.

This is a great couple lines of dialog from this B-movie from Warner Brothers.

This film is titled after the highway that ran through the three states of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.  This gave us the name Tri-State Gang for our group of bank robbers.

When I started watching this, we had the Governors of all three states talking to you about how crime doesn’t pay.  This gave me the impression this was going to be a docudrama type film like G-men, and it was to a certain degree. I felt G-men was a recruiting ad for the F.B.I. and  thought we where in for the same kind of thing here.  Instead it focuses on the criminal gang, and then goes to show you how crime does pay!  It’s like an instructional movie on how to rob a bank at the time and get away with it!  The way crime doesn’t pay in this movie, isn’t the police or F.B.I. catching you it’s your fellow bank robbers and the women who love them that trip them up.

The one thing about this film that kind of shocked me, is the violence this gang uses.  The killing of innocent people and murdering people with big mouths in broad daylight in front of witnesses was surprising to me.  The ending also seemed very violent for a film from 1950.

This film is written and directed by Andrew L. Stone who wrote and directed many film noir’s in his career.  George is our main baddie and is played wonderfully by Steve Cochran.  You hate him the whole movie!

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Gaby Andre plays our second female victim of George and is the only character we feel some sadness for.  Virginia Grey plays another of the girls in the gang who seems to be caught in a web of lies.  Our detective on the case narrates the story of our gang and how he finally caught them.  The detective is played by Edmon Ryan.

The story of this film shows the Tri-State Gang pull off a successful bank robbery and then a not so successful armored car robbery.  We soon meet the ladies that love the gang and one talks a little too much at a night club and things start to unravel for the gang.

This movie has flashes of brilliance and is a good little B-movie noir and worth a view for hardcore noir fans, and we learn “Don’t dance with strangers or talk to anyone with a mustache.”

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Favorite Tidbit:  There looks to be a real Tri-State Gang in the 1930’s, not sure how much of the movie is based on fact, but it looks like 3 of the Gang where eventually sentenced to death.