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"Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"—Cody Jarrett
White Heat is a 1949 Warner Bros Film Noir directed by Raoul Walsh and starring James Cagney. Cagney is Cody Jarrett, the violent and emotionally unstable gang leader who still has a soft spot for his Ma. After pulling off a train heist, he gets arrested and convicted for a robbery he didn't commit (as part of an alibi he'd previously arranged). Waiting in prison until the heat is off, he's worried about Big Ed, his second-in-command, taking control of his gang and his (unfaithful) wife. When he hears Ed has killed his mom, an enraged Cody busts out, determined to rub out Ed and regain control of the gang. What he doesn't know, though, is that a trusted fellow con who escaped with him is really an undercover cop. It all comes to a spectacular finish during another heist, where Cody makes it to the top of the world...
This work features examples of:
- Ax Crazy: Cody
- Beam Me Up, Scotty: The page quote is often misheard as "Top of the world, Ma!"
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Verna
- Climbing Climax: Cody climbs up a gas storage tower to escape his police and make his last stand.
- Death Is Dramatic
- Diving Save: Fallon shoves Cody out of the way when another inmate tries to drop a heavy piece of machinery on him in the prison workshop.
- Enforced Method Acting: The extras in the scene where Jarrett goes ape after being informed of his mother's death were not told of how far Cagney would go. Their surprise was real.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Ma Jarrett's a crook herself and not really a nice person to most people, but Cody still has a soft spot for her.
- Famous Last Words: See above.
- The Infiltration: Hank Fallon, posing as inmate "Vic Pardo" and joining Cody's gang.
- Police Procedural: The film shows in detail how police undercover operatives work, and how a vehicle tail is conducted.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Cody, again.
- Throw It In: In the scene where Cody has his Villainous Breakdown, he had the two biggest extras seated on both sides of him and had the camera follow him no matter what.
- Trojan Horse: The gas truck Cody's gang rides into the chemical plant. It's even lampshaded.
- Villainous Breakdown: Cody Jarrett wasn't really stable to begin with, but he really loses it when word comes that his Ma was killed.