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Author Topic: White Heat (1949)  (Read 4240 times)
cigar joe
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« on: September 22, 2011, 07:30:14 PM »

Director: Raoul Walsh, with James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien, Margaret Wycherly, and Steve Cochran. This was Cagney's return to gangster films after about a 10 year hiatus. Cagney is Cody Jarrett, he's older and a psychopathic hood with serious mother obsession in this go round.



Mayo is his neglected child bride, and O'Brien in this Noir is the undercover cop that infiltrates the gang.



The film has some exciting sequences beginning with the opening train robbery in the Sierras, the episode in the prison mess hall where Jarrett goes nuts, and the scene where Jarrett, in classic picaresque fashion, ventilates a trunk so its occupant can breath.... with a Colt .45 (below) while gnawing a chicken leg.  Afro Afro Afro



Of course the "Top of the World'' finale is now movie legend.

I caught this film tonight on TCM (I don't own it, so I have no idea on the quality of available DVD's or Blue Ray) , its understandably regarded as a great Noir film with the Iconic Cagney in classic gangster mode, but aside from those sequences noted above the film is unfortunately confined for long sequences housebound, in bland rural hideouts, without any interesting forays to any colorfully decaying gas station/cafe's etc., etc., that would have provided some diversity. 8/10.

It lacks (for me) the gritty dark cityscapes that elevate certain Noir's up a notch.

« Last Edit: September 22, 2011, 07:35:59 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2011, 08:20:41 AM »

To my way of thinking it too much resembles the films of the 30s gangster cycle, and so is not a true noir.

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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2011, 09:30:10 AM »

The most memorable scene is the one in the mess hall. I also like the shooting in the hood ("want some air?"). I have the dvd but haven't seen it yet. 

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« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2012, 12:41:53 PM »

To my way of thinking it too much resembles the films of the 30s gangster cycle, and so is not a true noir.

yeah, IMO this is a gangster film just like all the gangster films of the 30's. It's just that, (as I heard someone describe it, may have been Scorcese?) Cody Jarrett lived a little longer than the other guys did  Wink
if you are gonna put White Heat in the noir category, why not all the other gangster films like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar, et. al.? (All that really distinguishes White Heat is that it was released during the Noir time period, which I guess officially (or as "officially" as the unofficial world of noir can get) began with The Maltese Falcon in 1941.

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« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2012, 01:01:19 PM »

if you are gonna put White Heat in the noir category, why not all the other gangster films like The Public Enemy, Little Caesar, et. al.? (All that really distinguishes White Heat is that it was released during the Noir time period, which I guess officially (or as "officially" as the unofficial world of noir can get) began with The Maltese Falcon in 1941.
This is the crux of the matter. Although not everyone agrees that TMF kicks off the cycle, it can't have begun much before it (that is, unless you count the 30s gangster pictures, which no one does). Interestingly, the end of the cycle is most open to dispute. Noir, if it can be said to have existed at all, clearly migrated to TV in the 50s, and thrived there (in Perry Mason, The Fugitive, et. al.) even after it was no longer viable in film. The coming of color, and eliminaiton of b&w shows in prime time by 1966, doomed noir.

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« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2012, 01:03:00 PM »

To my way of thinking it too much resembles the films of the 30s gangster cycle, and so is not a true noir.

Definitely. There's nothing really noir about it. Good movie though.

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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2012, 01:10:32 PM »

I'm not really arguing ABSOLUTELY whether or not it is a noir. I don't know much about that. But I am arguing RELATIVELY that if White Heat makes the cut, so do all the other gangster films

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« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2012, 01:16:46 PM »

This is the crux of the matter. Although not everyone agrees that TMF kicks off the cycle, it can't have begun much before it (that is, unless you count the 30s gangster pictures, which no one does). Interestingly, the end of the cycle is most open to dispute. Noir, if it can be said to have existed at all, clearly migrated to TV in the 50s, and thrived there (in Perry Mason, The Fugitive, et. al.) even after it was no longer viable in film. The coming of color, and eliminaiton of b&w shows in prime time by 1966, doomed noir.

I guess that the color ones that were released during the B/W-era are called Color Noirs (eg. Niagara (1953), Slightly Scarlet (1956)).

And those released after B/W was finished are called Neo Noirs [eg. The Long Goodbye (1973); Body Heat (1981), The Last Seduction (1994)].

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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2012, 01:50:31 PM »

I guess that the color ones that were released during the B/W-era are called Color Noirs (eg. Niagara (1953), Slightly Scarlet (1956)).

And those released after B/W was finished are called Neo Noirs [eg. The Long Goodbye (1973); Body Heat (1981), The Last Seduction (1994)].

Yea that's the jist of it.

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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2012, 03:33:30 PM »

Except I wouldn't call Slightly Scarlet a noir. It's a melodrama with crooks.

And I wouldn't call The Long Goodbye a neo-noir (although it is a neo-PI film).

Body Heat could be considered a neo-noir though, because it is self-consciously appropriating the tropes of films from the classic noir period. The Last Seduction might qualify as well.

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« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2013, 11:56:42 AM »

Blu-ray.com gives top marks for the image on the new release. Ordered!
Quote
White Heat 5/5

White Heat was shot by director Walsh's frequent collaborator Sidney Hickox, a highly regarded Warner cinematographer, who also shot To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep for Howard Hawks. Hickox's gritty, realistic style is beautifully represented on Warner's 1080p, AVC-encoded picture, for which the source material is in pristine shape. The detail is exceptional, the blacks are deep and solid, the contrast is excellent and the finely delineated shades of gray give the image substance and depth. The film's grain pattern is fine and natural-looking, and Warner has used a BD-50 for this 113-minute film (the longest of the four included in the Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics box set), which allows for an average bitrate of 28.97 Mbps. This is a first-rate presentation of one of the glories of Warner's catalog.

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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2013, 10:47:30 PM »

Blu-ray.com gives top marks for the image on the new release. Ordered!

I ordered the whole Ultimate Gangsters Collection boxset, which includes White Heat, The Public Enemy, The Petrified Forest, and Little Caesar.

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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2013, 10:52:22 PM »

I rate White Heat an 8/10  Afro

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« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2015, 07:40:32 AM »

9/10. I would have gladly made without Cagney self-explanation scene with O'Brien.

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« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2015, 10:10:54 AM »

9/10. I would have gladly made without Cagney self-explanation scene with O'Brien.

On recent viewings I think I'd go higher than the 8/10 that I gave it a while ago. I'd probably give it a 9/10, too.

To me the one major flaw of the movie is the very last line, uttered by O'Brien. The movie should have ended with Cagney blowing up into the mushroom cloud and screaming "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" But then it cuts back to O'Brien for a line or preaching, where he says something like, "Cody Jarrett, made it to the top of the world, and it blew up in his face." No kidding. Ugh. I don't know, maybe it was a Hays Code thing. Who knows. Anyway, whenever I watch the movie, I click 'End" as soon as Jarrett says his final line, so I don't have to watch it cutting back to O'Brien for the worst line in movie history. For me, the movie ends with Cagney.

Made it, Ma! Top of the world!

 Smiley

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