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Author Topic: White Heat (1949)  (Read 4257 times)
cigar joe
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2015, 06:29:01 AM »

Agree about the last line, and it probably has to do with the Hayes Code.

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« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2015, 09:12:02 AM »

The "blow in the face" line is also a quotation from the movie itself and it fits with with the O'Brien character: I wouldn't expect anything less from a professional snitch. So I'm not bothered by the ending: O'Brien says a quite harsh line (certainly not a generous one) which reflects more negatively on him than on Cagney, who had trusted him. I don't think it has anything to do with censorship for this reason and also because this movie seems to have passed unnoticed at the Hays board. Actually, though this was my third or fourth viewing, I still wonder how it could ever have been released in 1949: I just can't think of any movie made before, even in the pre-code period, as tough.  I think that only in the '70's Hollywood started producing movies which can be compared to it as to toughness and sadism.  And still I wonder which scenes have surpassed Cagney killing the engineers, kicking Mayo on the bed, the man in the trunk who can't breathe, inviting Mayo as for a walk before kicking Cochrane's corpse downstairs etc.. Goodfellas can be compared, but of course there you don't have Cagney.

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« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2015, 08:52:37 AM »

Supposedly, the way they got around the Breen office was by making Jarrett crazy. After the Code began being enforced, you needed some sort of "reason" for why criminals committed crimes (hence the 'socially conscious' gangster films of the late 30's - the gangsters were a product of their environment, merely 'angels with dirty faces.') The way the story goes, when Cagney was thinking about the Jarrett character, he said something like, 'let's make him nuts' - I don't know whether Cagney was specifically thinking about how to appease Breen, but making Jarrett insane is supposedly is how they were able to avoid problems with Breen - he doesn't need a specific reason for crime; he's insane!
Also, by this time, we were deep into the noir era, which had a very different type of criminal - usually a lone person, not a real bad guy, but a regular person who just got himself into a bad situation, rather than the organized criminal groups that we call "gangster movies." I can't think of another (famous) gangster movie besides WHITE HEAT during the 'noir era' (40's and 50's). During the noir era, I think the 'bad stuff' in movies was more sexual and not organized crime; just a wild guess, I wonder if the Breen office was by that time less focused on censoring criminal gangs and more focused on sexuality.
Who knows.
I am sure the Warner archives have the memos with the censorship board; would be interesting to see them. You can try emailing those commentators on the Warner DVD's (Drew Casper, Alain Silver, James Ursini, Leaonard Maltin, et al) maybe they have seen those memos.

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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2017, 12:29:27 AM »

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

Just watched the movie again on BRD.

Feel just like I did last time: 9/10, and I clicked it off as soon as Jarrett utters his last line and blows up in ghe mushroom cloud.


BRD looks nice. One or two shots I noticed may be a bit screwed up - literally just one or two moments in the entire disc. Very nice-looking image.

 The sound seems kind of low: I noticed that I had to turn my speaker higher than usual in order to hear.

I love this movie! This is a movie I'll probably watch every year for the rest of my life  Smiley Smiley Smiley

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