James Cagney — White Heat (1948-1950) 🇺🇸

November 12, 2021

Movie Review — White Heat (Modern Screen, 1948)

Warner Brothers

Brutal melodrama starring James Cagney as a homicidal psychopath with a mother fixation.

A gang leader and murderer of long standing, Cagney’s only decent feelings are for his mother, Margaret Wycherly, who has aided and abetted his crime career. After Cagney and his gang hold up a train and make off with 300,000 in currency, their perfect crime starts falling apart when the Treasury men find a dead man and tie him to the robbery and Cagney’s mob. If caught, Cagney faces a murder charge, so he confesses to a small crime committed hundreds of miles away and at the same time the train hold-up was pulled. Wise to his game, the T-Men plant agent Edmond O’Brien in Cagney’s cell as a brother convict. The death of his mother causes Cagney to go berserk. He escapes and takes O’Brien with him. O’Brien amasses all the necessary evidence but when Cagney learns that he’s a T-Man, you start wondering how nerve-wracking can situations be. Cagney is terrifically chilling, Virginia Mayo, as his mercenary spouse is perfect, and Margaret Wycherly as the mother is great.

Source: Screenland, November 1949

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Ruthless is back!

The king of the tough boys is back, the killer with the coldest eye and the itchiest trigger finger in the Hollywood homicide racket, James Cagney. In Warners’ “White Heat,” Jimmy’s a ruthless gang leader with a progressive brain disorder, who slaps Virginia Mayo around with relish, and leaves a member of his gang to die as casually as a rubbish man discards his day’s haul. Jimmy’s warped, but slick, and has a plan for evading arrest for murders committed during a train robbery, which goes awry when an equally slick T-man manages to join the gang. He’s the same taut, cocky Cagney, piling up thrill on top of thrill in his return to infamy and leaving fans in the same “White Heat” as the film.

Even in rehearsal James Cagney, with Director Raoul Walsh and Fred Coby, does his scenes like an aggressive hornet.

Virginia Mayo, his wife in “White Heat,” double-crosses Jimmy, but charms him into sparing her when he kills her lover.

Jimmy’s kids, Katherine and James, Jr., know their father as a tolerant, easy-going guy who’s a farmer boy at heart.

Source: Screenland, November 1949

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Screenland Salutes James Cagney

After watching Jimmy Cagney be his exciting, ruthless self again in the recent “White Heat,” movie-goers begged for another such thriller, with the lovably contemptible guy, before too long a wait. He’d been making so few pictures lately. Their pleas were soon answered, for “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” Jimmy’s latest melodrama, has all of the stirring ingredients that made “White Heat” and other Cagney classics surefire entertainment.

Jimmy and Steve Brodie in “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,” a Cagney production.

As Ralph Cotter, Jimmy's college professor gone wrong. He escapes from prison farm, leads hectic life of crime.

Jimmy weds Helena Carter, cast as daughter of multi-millionaire in action-packed film.

Jimmy gets pushing around from Ward Bond, crooked detective, in “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.”

He gives Barbara Peyton a rough time. He outsmarts the law for a time; then is killed.

Source: Screenland, September 1950