White Heat with James Cagney
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This is considered one of the best films ever made.
It is listed by TIME Magazine on its list of the greatest movies made since 1923; the All-TIME Movies list is available here:
James Cagney is also noted separately, on the same All-Time list, for his exceptional performance, along with:
- Bill Murray for his extraordinary performance in Groundhog Day, Marlon Brando for On The Waterfront and a few others
Indeed, James Cagney is wonderful in the role of a leader of an organized crime group, called Cody Jarrett.
The role is complex and challenging.
Cody Jarrett is a psychopath.
And all leaders of the mob are in that position, more or less.
A psychopath is someone who has no emotions, as Harvard Positive Psychology Professor Tal Ben Shahar puts it.
The psychopath is very well able to exploit the feelings of the others and climb up the social ladder, in most groups.
Business leaders have shown this tendency in some cases.
Politicians, perhaps needless to say have the same inclination-
- Do you think that extreme narcissism contradicts psychopathic tendencies in The Donald’s case??
Cody Jarrett is obsessed and in love with his mother, Verna Jarrett and the detective assigned to his case explains his past.
In order to get his parent’s attention, little Cody used fake headaches to get her attention and sympathy.
But the situation got worse when the pretended headaches became real and so serious that he was in excruciating pain.
Furthermore, it did not help his image as a tough guy within the group when the lieutenants saw him on the floor.
They rob a train and Cody Jarrett kills two mechanics, one of whom falls on a lever that releases extremely hot vapor.
One member of the gang is severely injured, but abandoned by the psychopath- remember the explanation.
He has an attractive wife that is not so enthusiastic about her mobster spouse and neither is Cody too much in love with her.
The sentence for the train robbery that involved a double homicide is death and Cody Jarrett wants to avoid it.
He concocts a plan that would have him confess to another crime for which the penalty is two years in jail.
The detective investigating the train robbery saw through the plan and they had a policeman, Hank Fallon share the cell with the mobster, in order to try to get close to him and find the place where he had hidden the money and any other useful, incriminating detail.
The film is very good and the dialogue is also excellent:
“ Cody Jarrett: Made it, Ma! Top of the world!
Verna Jarrett: I'd look good in a mink coat, honey.
Cody Jarrett: You'd look good in a shower curtain.
Roy Parker: You wouldn't kill me in cold blood, would ya?
Cody Jarrett: No, I'll let ya warm up a little.
Cody Jarrett: A copper, a copper, how do you like that boys? A copper and his name is Fallon. And we went for it, I went for it. Treated him like a kid brother. And I was gonna split fifty-fifty with a copper!”