White Heat Movie Review
Cagney had been out of the gangster scene for nearly a decade, but he made his triumphant return to the genre here in one of his most memorable roles ever. It's got little to do with the plot, however. Cody's gang plans a big heist, while an undercover cop infiltrates his gang in prison, after saving Cody from an assassination attempt. Finally, once Cody is out and the heist is underway, the "copper" betrayal is revealed, and things go south as the cops close in (very slowly -- during a 15-minute sequence with the cops using directional radios to locate the car they're driving -- it must've been a crazy high-tech idea at the time, but the rotating antennae and map plotting come off as tediously dull today).
Ultimately, Cody makes his last stand, screaming out his famous "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" as he goes down in flames. And it's Cagney's unforgettable dialogue and brazen attitude that make White Heat a classic. Strangely, many people seem to omit it from the classic gangster canon -- and it's probably due to the combination of too-tedious plot and a meaningless title that have kept it out of the ranks of films like The Public Enemy. But never mind all that. If you're looking for Cagney's best gangster role ever, you got it right here, on the top of the world.
The new DVD includes a commentary track, featurette, and Leonard Maltin intro and archival material.
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