RandomFest 2014 - Review Of White Heat
So, it’s taken me awhile to get to watching movies again; I have been reading, writing and oddly: socializing so much that I couldn’t find the time until last night. I watched the film that gave me the idea to watch a few of the films I recall seeing in Film School (University Of Manitoba 84-90, yes 6 years, I only stopped going when/because they sent me a diploma) but not since. Maybe a snippet of one or two on late night TV, but never sat down and re-watched any of these choices.
Raoul Walsh’s “White Heat” was this first movie. Before seeing this picture in a ‘gangster film’ class, I had seen all those great younger Cagney (the first movie anti-hero?) movies like Public Enemy, Dead End Kids, either in the class, or on my own, probably on the CBC late movie. This film plays with Cagney’s image as a Warner Bros. Gangster in a way that we now call ‘meta.’ Cagney was big, huge, and an icon in any role, but an aging crook, pulling train heists? Made for him.
And, as usual Cagney kills it. He is both Cody Jerrett, and James Cagney, both are present, he gets to do the patter he is so well known for as well as a bit of unusual depth with the Oedipal migraines that Cody suffers from.
Cody Jarrett: [while eating a chicken leg, Jarrett speaks to Parker in the trunk of the sedan] How ya doin', Parker?
Roy Parker: It's stuffy in here, I need some air.
Cody Jarrett: Oh, stuffy, huh? I'll give ya a little air.
[pulls a gun from his pants and shoots four times into the trunk]
Virginia pouts and plots her way through the whole thing with aplomb and the ability to wear perfect makeup 24/7. She has a nice light touch that plays of Cagney’s growly touchy husband. Ma’s offscreen death is one of the best offscreen deaths in Cinema. Edmond O’Brien ‘big lugs’ himself through the movie as the most chill undercover cop of all time. The whole thing holds up extremely well, and makes me want to re-visit my favourite Cagney movie... wait for it... “The Strawberry Blonde.”
9.025467 super earnest criminals who turn out to be coppers outta 10