Sunday, January 28, 2007

WHITE HEAT (Warner Bros. 1949) Warner Home Video

The intense character study of criminal insanity in Raoul Walsh's White Heat (1949) is most likely the other great Cagney performance that has endured the test of time. Cagney is psychotic and sadistic Arthur 'Cody' Jarrett, a ruthless gang leader with a penchant for deriving pleasure from the affliction of pain.

Plagued by torturous headaches and a mother fixation with Freud written all over it, Cody revels in murdering his wounded accomplice during a jail break. Cody's 'ma' (Margaret Wycherly) has allowed herself the luxury to forget that she's given birth to the criminal anti-Christ.

Meanwhile, Cody's wife, Verna (Virginia Mayo) flaunts her sexuality to every man she meets while enduring the brutality and neglect of her unstable husband. This, of course, ends badly for all concerned.

The plot thickens when Vic Pardo (Edmund O'Brien) an undercover cop infiltrates Cody’s gang as an informer. The finale is justly famous, as Cody - betrayed and about to die, shouts triumphantly against the backdrop of a burning chemical plant, "Made it, ma! Top of the world!" White Heat may have been a remake twice removed, but neither the 26' nor the 34' version comes close to the immediate panic and raw hysteria of this great film classic.

Warner Home Video’s DVD exhibits exemplary image quality throughout. The gray scale is rich and nicely balanced with deep solid blacks and clean whites. Fine details are fully realized, even during darker scenes. Occasionally, film grain, minor dirt and scratches appear but these will certainly not distract.

The audio is mono but extremely well balanced and very nicely represented. Extras include an adequate audio commentary by noted authoritarian, Drew Casper, a newly produced featurette which is very succinct and Leonard Maltin's hosting of "Warner's Night At The Movies". Highly recommended!

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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