Posted in Tale As Old As Time

White Heat (1949)

In broad daylight, in the High Sierra of the Californian border, Cody Jarrett and his men board a train, suspicously opening the carriage doors. They don their long coats, only for a pistol to shine through as they shoot their way past the people because the “conductor didn’t want to play” . zuckie was meant to ‘throw the switch’ at the train tracks, but gets scalded by the steam engine when a small tussel of a shootout forms at the main compartment hitting the mechanics. The men take off with $300,000 in federal currency,  leaving behind four dead.

Weeks go past, as Cody and his men, his wife Verna and Ma are couped up at a secluded cabin  like a bunch of gophers. Things are looking too cosy for comfort as the men realise they may get caught. As the men bicker amongest themselves about  their safety,  Cody staggers to the floor in pain from a migrane “that’s the second one he’s had this month”, while Big Ed shamefully notes that “he’s nuts, just like his old man”,as Ma ushers him into the bedroom. Behind closed doors she comforts his anxities in her lap, telling him not to show his weakness to his men in a manner of vulnerability and with a small token of devoted love, she toasts his whisky shot to the “top of the world son”.

In an attempt to disguise his former breakdown, Cody shows he’s alright, as he  emerges from the open doors to a storm coming. “Every roads gonna be blocked” said the guy on the radio. Tonight’s the night they all got packed up and hit the dirt roads of another unseen home , all except for Zuckie ofcourse, who’s bandaged body can scarcely cope and  would scare off the worst of mummies, as he is left to contemplate his fate guarded by a pack of cigarettes at hand.

Meanwhile at the police department, an informant by the name of Willie, decides to reel in some cash that he didn’t get to to have a taste of, as he treats the authorities with his disconcerning information ” you know just dropping a word in the right ear”..while all the technology the 1940s could muster up, with their spectograph scans from the debris at the scene, and the fingerprints from zuckie all lead to the crime scene of the heist, soon puzzeled together to point the finger to none other than the Cody Jarrett gang. 

On the other side of Los Angeles overlooking a motel, reside the gang. Verna admires her new mink coat in front of a mirror as she stands on a stool while Cody realises Ma is missing. ” she went to the market”, like strawberries don’t you..well she just had to get some for her boy”. A frantic and rather irritated Cody kicks Verna off the stool as she stumbles onto the bed in disgrace.

At the market, Ma is seen to be strawberry shopping as she wants to stock up on those vitamin c for her son, while an agent is shown to have followed her. A quick call to the authorities and the other men in grey are hot on her trail, as they follow her lead through the men at point A, point B and point C to track her every moves because ‘where Ma goes, Cody goes’.

Somebody must’ve tipped them off thinks Cody, as Ma is soon back in a hurry to inform him of her chase. Once more they rush to pack up their belongings to make their getaway as an annoyed Verna doesn’t understand “what’s the use of havin money if you gotta start runnin every time somebody sees a shadow”, before being pushed into the car at top speed.

It is at a movie screening where their parked vehicle stays put, that Cody comes up with a cunning plan, to give himself up  but avoid the gas chamber for his murders by faking to be at another heist that had taken place on the same day, thus serving him a maximum of two years at most.  A henious plan only his ‘sweet mother’ would support. ” you’re the smartest there is Cody”. 

As Cody begins his two year sentence at Prison, he is met by some interesting characters and without Ma at his guidance, Cody is about to learn how much crime pays, no matter how good a bad guy you play. There’s a rat in the pact, people want him dead and that’s just the start of his worries on the inside, as on the outside, things are shaping up to be pretty hasty, for Big Ed has gotten some rather big ideas about who’s the big shot around these parts of the town. 

Someone’s been at my bread again..

Cody Jarrett is at full steam, a criminal with psychopathic tendencies. He has his consistent outbursts throughout the movie where he disregards the life of others that surround him, as noted by Verna that “ he ain’t human”. An unstable man who holds his pistol at any given gunpoint without much clarity, as though he was a gentleman going for a picnic. 

With the litte display of affection he does show is given strongly to his mother that reflects the strange, somewhat oedipus complex relationship Norman Bates had with his own mother, whilst the other half lingers on  his wife Verna who will stick around for the most part of the fun  for her worth in fur coats.

Everybody sees the weakness in Cody’s mental state as it’s cut wide open as a sore wound that takes too long to heal. It is plastered only by his motivation from his mother to keep going in life ” when you’re around ma, nothing can stop me”, as any given moment it seems Cody will tear at the seams.

Notably at a scene at the office, the agents converse in the very fact that ” the only person he’s ever cared about or trusted is his mother, no one else has ever made a dent. Not even his wife”.  His mother resemblems the ‘puppet master’ that holds him up from his downfall. Taking into consideration that perhaps singing some of his mothers good old lullabies would be enough to outsmart Cody Jarrett. 

Cody is determined to slip out rather than slip off from Prison and with only a handful of those who he thinks he can seemingly trust is something he needs to bite the bullet for. With one trying to offer you a friendly handshake, the other may just stab you in the back. An adrenaline -fuelled crime thriller that’ll have you screaming ‘Ma i made it’ to the Top of the World!

Directed by : Raoul Walsh

Story by : Virginia Kellogg

Starring: James Carney, Virginia Mayo, Edward O’ Brien and others

Music by : Max Steiner




A Mademoiselle living in the U.K Born in the late 80's with a vintage heart. My blog is made up of my thoughts; be it through the eyes of a great movie, the chapters of a book or in the hands of a game and other ideas that set my mind apart.. here on an open platform to share with the rest of the world. Won't you join me..

17 thoughts on “White Heat (1949)

    1. He is a great villain in the same likeness in this’s the pyschopathic and bizzare tendencies in his character that really make this movie intriguing. I hope you get to watch it someday soon. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  1. (Another post from a followed site that I DIDN’T get from WP! Grrr…)
    Great review of a Cagney classic. I loved his over the top performances in everything, and his non-gangster roles too, like ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’. He gives a great performance a little later, in the wonderful Ruth Etting biopic ‘Love Me Or Leave Me’ (1955), alongside Doris Day. I can really recommend that one.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WordPress still playing war with most of us it seems. Or rather it’s glitches are. I can only hope you can get it sorted very soon. It overwhelms me too. But Thank you for liking the review on a great movie indeed. It’s the first Cagney classic, my eyes have set on but it won’t be my last. I shall take your recommendation on board. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great, I just wrote a complete response to your post, and it disappeared on me. Sometimes I really love technology lol. Oh well..I will type it again I suppose. I think that I have seen this movie in the past, but for the life of me I can’t really remember. This must really mean that I am getting old now, and am losing my mind lol πŸ˜‚ The other day I was talking to a friend of mine who said she was going to watch old classic black and white movies all day. She said “call me old fashioned”. Well I would never, because I love watching these. They never get old (pun intended). It’s too bad that there are so few of them on Netflix, but I do own quite a lot of them on dvd. I will be adding this one to the collection, as it really sounds like a great movie. I love the way you write these reviews. It really makes you see the scenes play out in your mind, almost as vividly as if you were seeing the film itself. Great stuff. As always a wonderful post, looking forward to whatever movie will be coming up next 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Word press glitches sure does seem to have gotten the worst of people sometimes..but thankfully your post has been well received and now much appreciated.

      As are very humble and I curtsey (‘the old fashioned’ way heh) to say thank you.

      It really is a shame they don’t have these on Netflix, even in the U.k, so I end up having to chase them out like a bandit.

      I really adore these kinds of movies, film noir being a favourite genre of mine, and these gangster crime movies really play great with my heart for being so well -scripted for it’s time, no matter how colourless it can get..though it might not be for everyone I know. I say..” we might be getting older but we most certainly live like were young at heart). Besides, i think it’s very grand to have such a taste in these movies.

      It’s one I’m proud to own and I hope it’ll be one you can soon add too as it really is worth the viewing.

      I’m glad you like how I write, it means a lot. I try to make it less formal, somewhat sophisticated, added with my personal touch as some reviews can get a little too professional heh which doesn’t sit well with my writing. Just the way it unfolds in my mind I suppose though it never follows much of a pattern.

      P.s I hope you are recovering slowly but surely and taking care. ☺


  3. Fabulous prose. It’s amazing how White Heat has aged so incredibly well – just like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, released one year earlier. For me these films just get better every single time I watch them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Paul. It’s one of my treasured favourites. Most of my reviews are similarly either a favourite or quite loved and this is a favourite. As you so well put it, it just always excites to watch such movies that are as wonderful as they are timeless. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your fantastic writing has made White Heat sound genuinely thrilling! 😊 Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this film yet. I clearly need to brush up on my film noir, which I love, and I definitely will! Now, I do wish these classics were more easily accessible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for liking the review Jade. Yes it’s a shamemthese aren’t available on more streaming apps and thus I too have to find other options but some of those I own have been a great choice to watch every so often such as this movie. Noir movies really are quite interesting and I’m pretty sure you’d fall in love with a few. I do hope you’ll get to see them someday. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for liking the post. It’s indeed one I my favourite movies of his that really shine through for me. The way it all played out was so fascinating and tense. You can’t help empathise with him even when he has done some rather dodgy dealings. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

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