A blog to chill and get some of everything, Movies, TV, Comics and Games

DeaconsDen Classic Reaction – White Heat

Anchored by a ferocious performance by James Cagney, White Heat is a thrilling peace of post-war cinema. I watched this film back to back to back with The Public Enemy and Angels with Dirty Faces and they really tell the story of crime in America. Public Enemy focuses on one man’s rise in crime, Angels with Dirty Faces introduces the new bosses of crime with lawyers and politicians. White Heat brings into focus the overwhelming power of the state in crime prevention. 

New social ideals are forming post World War II. In The Public Enemy, Tom Powers represents individualism, the sole criminal in charge of his own destiny. In White Heat the treasury agents represent the idea of conformity that arises. Cody Jarrett represents a deviation from that idea that must be snuffed out. This is timely with the rise of the Cold War.

White Heat also examines the psyche of the American man. Cody Jarrett is a man clearly struggling with his demons. However he knows no way to handle them but to lash out and the only person he can be with where he functions best is with his mother. He is extremely paranoid and doesn’t trust anyone. He has bad relationships with any woman that is not his mother. The one person outside of her that he trusts, is not who he says he is and it just pushes him over the edge.

White Heat may be an old school gangster film, but like others of this era it is extremely layered beyond just cops and robbers.


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