Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

White Heat (1949)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

White Heat (1949)

In director Raoul Walsh's exciting Freudian-tinged gangster film - a fast-paced, powerful Warner Bros. film that revived the gangster film in the last year of the decade. It was 50 year-old James Cagney's comeback-return to his popular, 'tough-guy' gangster image. It turned out to be one of the last of Warner Bros' gritty crime films in its era. The film's screenplay by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts was suggested by a story of the same name by Virginia Kellogg. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Story - the film's only nomination.

White Heat is an entertaining, fascinating and hypnotic portrait of a flamboyant, mother-dominated and fixated, epileptic and psychotic killer, who often spouted crude bits of humor. This classic, dynamic film anticipated the heist films of the early 50s (John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle (1950), and Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956)), accentuated the semi-documentary style of films of the period (Naked City (1948)), and contained film-noirish elements, including the shady black and white cinematography, the femme fatale character, and the twisted psyche of the criminal gangster. It was characterized by an increased level of violence and brutality along with classical Greek elements (the Oedipus complex, and the Trojan Horse ruse).

The melodramatic, Freudian-based crime film was enhanced by the musical score of Max Steiner and the frantic pacing brilliantly served up by the director. The crooked, cold-blooded, eccentric, and warped gangster had many personality and psychological flaws, but was tragically and ultimately betrayed by the stupidity of his closest accomplices (his right-hand man who had designs on the criminal's wife, and even his criminal mother when she went out to purchase strawberries), and by his trusted cell-mate/friend who was actually an undercover cop.

  • the film's opening was an exhilarating mail-train robbery sequence set in the High Sierras at the California border near the state line; a black vehicle filled with thuggish crooks, led by cold-blooded, maniacal, crime boss mastermind Arthur "Cody" Jarrett (James Cagney) followed closely behind a steam locomotive winding its way through the rough terrain; Cody was joined in the vehicle by Zuckie Hommell (Ford Rainey) (back seat, right side) (the newest gang member), driver Het Kohler (Mickey Knox) and Giovanni "Cotton" Valletti (Wally Cassell) (back seat, left side)

Arthur "Cody" Jarrett (James Cagney)

Zuckie Hommell (Ford Rainey)
  • they provided backup for two henchmen "Big Ed" Somers (Steve Cochran) and Happy Taylor (Fred Coby) who were already on the train and killed two resistant train conductors; Cody dramatically jumped onto the slow-moving train as it emerged from a tunnel; "Cotton" and Het smashed the windows of the US Post Office Mail car and then dynamited the entry door to abscond with $300,000 dollars in federal currency; Cody brutally shot both the Engineer (Murray Leonard) and Fireman (Leo Cleary) to keep them silent after they heard the talkative Zuckie foolishly mention "Cody's" name; gang member Zuckie, who was standing next to the train, was scalded in the face by a blast of "white heat" (steam) when the lethally-wounded Fireman fell onto the blowoff cock lever; the gang escaped with the loot from the hold-up after murdering a total of four railway men
  • the gang escaped to their hideout - a high-altitude mountain shed hide-away 300 miles away from Tahoe where the robbery occurred; burly, highly-ambitious Big Ed, Cody's lieutenant, who was dressed in gangster attire (a black shirt, black hat and overcoat) and "Cotton" both restlessly discussed overturning their boss' autocratic, homicidal leadership
  • two females in the cabin included Cody's old, hawkish mother "Ma" Jarrett (Margaret Wycherly) - with whom the deranged Cody had a mother-fixation, and Cody's voluptuous blonde wife Verna Jarrett (Virginia Mayo) - a brassy, dim-witted blonde, lazily sleeping in the back bedroom
  • Cody was plagued by frequent debilitating, blinding headaches (migraines?), or epileptic fits - his Achilles' heel; as he loaded his gun, he groaned, lurched, keeled over and fell to the floor - his gun exploded as he hit the floor, helplessly incontinent; Big Ed muttered to Verna: "He's nuts, just like his old man"
  • in a second bedroom, Ma bent over him on a bed to knead her fingers into the back of his neck and head to soften the 'buzz-saw' pain and white heat of the pain and provide soothing solace and comfort for her son; he again found comfort and relief for the pain by sitting on his mother's lap; he described the feeling of pain in his head as: "It's like having a - it's like having a red hot buzzsaw inside my head"; he was emotionally dependent upon her and fiercely devoted to her, emphasizing the Oedipal complex of his relationship with her; Ma functioned as both his mentor and advisor, and encouraged her son to forcefully regain his confidence and appear as normal again
  • under the cover of an approaching storm, they started packin' to leave for Los Angeles; Verna was tempted after observing a suitcase full of $20 dollar bills and she put her arms around Cody's neck and purred: ("We could travel, buy things. That's what money's for. I look good in a mink coat, honey"), and Cody complimented her: "You'd look good in a shower curtain"
  • as the group was readied to depart, Cody sent Cotton back into the cabin to function as the doctor or "specialist" for the wounded Zuckie - and kill him; Cody attempted to reassure his Ma that they would safely get away ("Rest easy, Ma. We're 300 miles from the tunnel. What have they got? A corpse without a record. Nothing to tie him in with the tunnel job or us"); inside the cabin, Cotton disobeyed and faked a killing by shooting into the ceiling three times, and then promised his buddy: "Don't make a sound, Zuckie...Look, I'll try to come back." Cotton placed a pack of cigarettes into Zuckie's pocket before leaving. The gang separated into two vehicles to avoid detection
  • in the next scene set in the TAHOE COUNTY MORGUE, it was revealed that Zuckie's frozen body was recovered in the mountain cabin; the Chief of Police (Marshall Bradford) spoke to Phillip Evans (John Archer, father of film star Anne Archer), a US Treasury Department (T-Man) agent, wondering about the man's ultimate fate; the Police Surgeon (George Taylor) speculated that the dead man may have been scalded by the steam engine of the train involved in the nearby holdup
  • US Treasury Agent Evans returned to his Los Angeles Division office, still contemplating the case of the "tunnel job" by the group of train robbers; crude forensic evidence revealed that Zuckie had been present at the crime scene, and fingerprints on the cellophane of the cigarette package given to Zuckie was determined to belong to Cotton Valletti - a "known member Jarrett gang"
  • the gang's new hideout in LA was in the auto-court chain of MILBANKE MOTELS; Cody was worried and frantic that his mother had left to go to the market to buy strawberries "for her boy" and was vulnerable to arrest; when Verna made a sarcastic remark about Cody's Ma, he kicked out the chair from under her, sending her sprawling backwards onto the sofa
  • Ma Jarrett was spotted by a government agent in a fruit-stand market in downtown Los Angeles; he marked her parked car with a small strip of a rag/handkerchief on the rear bumper: "Where Ma goes, Cody goes"; by nightfall, one of three squad cars of agents tracking her car was able to eventually locate her parked car in the auto-court; after Ma worried that she might have been followed, the tense gang hurriedly packed again; as the gang was departing, Cody was confronted by agent Evans as he slipped into the front seat of his own parked coupe; Cody stealthily grabbed a gun in the glove compartment and wounded Evans in the right shoulder as his car screeched away with Verna and Ma into the darkness of the night
  • pursued by a police car with its siren wailing, Cody swung into the San-Val Drive-In Theatre to escape; Cody commanded Verna to turn off - kill - the sound on the drive-in's portable loudspeaker hooked in the car

Ma Jarrett Purchasing Strawberries in an LA Market

Ma Jarrett Followed by Agents Back to Auto-Court

Evans Confronting Cody at the Auto-Court Before Being Shot

Evans Shot in the Right Shoulder

Fugitives in Flight: Verna, Ma, and Cody

Ma and Verna Questioned by Evans in LA (While Cody Was Traveling to Illinois)
  • as they sat in the car, Cody then proposed turning himself in, by pleading guilty to a lesser crime of the Palace Hotel payroll theft in Springfield, IL committed by an at-large criminal named Scratch Morton - on the same night that they were at the tunnel; therefore, he would escape capital punishment (for the 4 murders at the train) and maybe serve for only two years; Ma Jarrett was proud of Cody's decision to escape to Illinois: ("You're the smartest there is, Cody"); although it was a dubious promise, Verna claimed she would remain faithful for two years ("I'll be waiting for you, honey. You can trust me")
  • during questioning of Ma Jarrett and a weepy Verna in Evans' LA office, while Cody was enroute by private plane to Illinois, Ma asserted: "Cody hasn't been in California for months." Evans wryly replied: "If Cody's been out of California for months, I suppose he couldn't possibly have engineered that train robbery six weeks ago." Without any other witnesses, Evans could not prove that Jarrett had shot him in Los Angeles
  • the Springfield, IL newspaper headlines read: "CODY JARRETT SURRENDERS - Confesses Robbery of Palace Hotel"; Evans' plan all along was to accept Cody's deceptive ploy (a "phony rap") in order to place an experienced undercover agent "copper" Hank Fallon (Edmond O'Brien) in his cell as his cellmate - to trap the gangster-hero into confessing to the robbery crime
  • via a teletype report, the Springfield authorities reported: "Cody Jarrett Confession Checks...Will Be Sentenced on Twenty Eighth"; as expected, Cody got away "with a two-bit prison stretch" in jail in Illinois; Evans's ultimate goal was to prosecute Jarrett's sophisticated racket that involved stealing $300,000 of federal money and re-selling (money laundering) it through a "very special fence" (or Trader) for a profit on the European black market
  • Evans cautioned Fallon about Cody - described as a homicidal, abnormal, psychopathic mama's boy who faked headaches when he was a boy to get his mother's attention, but then grew up with real, painful headaches. Both his father and brother died insane - his father in an institution. Possessing an intense mother complex, he was now obsessively and psychopathically devoted to his mother - a shrewd woman who had master-minded his criminal career as a gangster and used her son (as her husband-substitute) to seek vengeance on the world
  • an Illinois Judge (George Spaulding) sentenced Cody for the crime of grand larceny at the Palace Hotel to a term of "not less than one and not more than three years in the state penitentiary"; Hank Fallon would now pose as a small-time crook named Vic Pardo in the same prison; he deliberately bumped into Cody in the courtroom after his sentencing, asking about the Judge: "How is he? Tough?"
  • while serving his time in prison, in the prison courtyard one day, Cody learned through his lip-reading cellmate Herbert the Reader (G. Pat Collins) about another prisoner's spoken communications, Roy Parker (Paul Guilfoyle); the news from Parker was that Big Ed had taken over Cody's gang - and also had designs on Verna: "It's about Big Ed...He's the number one boy now, Parker says, in more ways than one"; at the same time, Cody cautioned Fallon/Pardo about getting too close: "When I want your help, I'll ask for it"
  • when the new inmates were summoned to the infirmary for shots, Bo Creel (Ian MacDonald) was dabbing alcohol on prisoners' arms - he had been delayed in his release until the next day, had not been transferred as expected, and could recognize Fallon/Pardo (Creel had been arrested by Fallon two years earlier); as Cody approached Creel in the line, he asked him for a favor - once he was on the outside, Creel was asked to confirm what was happening with Big Ed; while in the infirmary line and worried about being identified by Creel, Fallon/Pardo instigated a fight with Parker behind him in line and was placed into solitary confinement for a month
  • Cody's face dissolved into his mother's - symbolic of their unified will, in the transition to the next scene, in which Ma preached to the gang about how Cody would get his full share

Cody's Cellmates (l to r): Cody, Pardo, Maddox, Herbert the Reader

Cody's Face and Ma's Face Overlap During a Dissolve

Cody's Gang (l to r): Happy, Ma, Big Ed, Cotton, Verna, Het
  • through the grapevine, Cody learned that his gang had pulled a caper netting $57,000 dollars, and Cody was confident that through his Ma, he would get his full share; Verna had easily switched allegiances to Big Ed, but she was disappointed that Big Ed was weakly acquiescing to Ma's leadership and direction: ("Well, I'm sick of waitin' for you to make your move. You're as scared of Cody as any of 'em. He's still Mr. Big - in prison or out")
  • Big Ed divulged that he had arranged for Cody to be killed in prison by Roy Parker, his associate on the inside; in the prison's machine shop, Parker set up an "accident" - to deliberately drop a heavy transformer from an overhead monorail onto Jarrett positioned beneath it, but Pardo saw what was planned and hurtled his body toward Cody to save him, although Cody was ungrateful for Pardo's save (Cody: "Whaddya want, a medal?")

Parker at the Controls of an Overhead Monorail

Cody Positioned Underneath Heavy Equipment Above Him

Cody Saved by Pardo
  • during an unexpected prison visit from Ma, Cody was told by his strain-faced, nervous mother that he had been betrayed, understandably, by Big Ed: ("It's Big Ed and Verna. They run out"); Cody responded: "I'll take care of 'em when I get out"; Ma was supportive: "You'll be out soon, back on top of the world"; she surmised that Big Ed was responsible for the "accident" he had just experienced; she vengefully promised to get even and "take care of" the treacherous Big Ed on the outside before Cody's release: ("I'm goin' after him, Cody, to keep him from having you knocked off in here") although Cody begged for her to stay away from Big Ed as he grabbed the wire separating himself from her: ("I'm tellin' ya, don't do it..., Ma, Ma, Ma!")
  • after returning to the machine shop, Cody spoke briefly to Parker, promising to get pay-back sometime when he was good and ready; he also brooded about Big Ed, and replaying his Ma's words: ("I'll take care of him, Cody"), Cody fell to the floor with blinding pain from another headache; the screeching of the machines portrayed Cody's mental state; Pardo served as Cody's surrogate mother through transference, by rubbing and massaging the back of Cody's head to ease the pain; Cody finally acknowledged Pardo's friendship and befriended the hero-worshipping criminal, taking him into his confidence and trust
  • later in his cell, Cody shared with Pardo his major concern: "It's Ma. She's walking into trouble"; he began to plan an imminent "crash-out" to take care of Big Ed: ("I got business on the outside"); Pardo conspired to assist Cody through his next day's prison visit with his wife Margaret Baxter (Fern Eggen); Pardo also suggested not taking along Tommy Ryley (Robert Osterloh) who had a stashed-away gun; Pardo explained how he could deactivate the prison's generators, and have just the two of them escape "without artillery"; the next day, Pardo passed on to Evans the plans about the escape on Thursday night - through his "wife"; a getaway car was planted to help aid their escape, equipped with an oscillator to track their whereabouts (within a 20 mile radius)
  • during dinner on the evening of the escape, in a 3-minute prison mess-hall sequence, Cody asked a question about his mother to Nat Lefeld (Eddie Foster), a member of the "Coast mob" who had just been incarcerated: ("Ask him how my mother is"); the message, first given to Tommy Ryley on Cody's right, was passed down a long line of prisoners sitting at the table to Lefeld; the camera panned to the left as each prisoner whispered the question to the next guy; word of Cody's mother's death ("She's dead") was then passed back from Lefeld (from prisoner to prisoner) to Ryley; Ryley simply told Cody: "She's dead"; Cody had a beserk, epileptic reaction - standing on and sprawling across the table, and then attacking the guards and making gutteral sounds before being carried away, kicking, squirming and screaming like a caught fish

Overhead View of Prison Mess Hall

Cody's Request to Ryley: "Ask him how my mother is" - to Pass Down to Lefeld

The Response About Ma's Death from Lefeld, Relayed Back Down the Line of Prisoners to Ryley

Cody's Insane Reaction to His Ma's Death When Ryley Told Him: "She's dead"

Cody Climbing Up Onto the Table

Cody Carried Out Kicking and Squirming
  • Cody was strait-jacketed and lying on a cot in a barred isolation cell in the infirmary; while Ryley brought him soup, Ryley cleverly negotiated with Cody to join their escape group; the prison doctor, Dr. Simpson (Perry Ivins) recommended that the violent and homicidal Cody required treatment and should be committed in a mental institution, at the same time that Cody was still plotting his escape; Evans was phoned by the Warden and told that there was a change in plans since Cody was a "raving maniac" - the escape had been called off, so his agents ended preparations to intercept them
  • that same evening after Cody's straitjacket was removed so he could eat a meal, while he was being examined by two professional psychiatrists, Ryley passed him a gun that he used to hold the various prison officials hostage; Cody was able to escape with Pardo, Ryley, the Reader, and Parker (who was locked in the trunk of their getaway car) as they drove out of the prison gates in a black sedan with the two psychiatrists providing them cover
  • the fugitives sought refuge in a farmhouse of an elderly couple, where the psychiatrists were tied up and forced to exchange their clothes with the prisoners' uniforms; as they were driving off in a second vehicle, while chewing on a chicken drumstick/leg, Cody shouted at the sedan's closed trunk: "How ya doin', Parker?" Parker complained that he was suffocating for lack of air: "It's stuffy in here, I need some air," Cody sarcastically responded, "Oh, stuffy huh? I'll give it a little air," and sadistically shot four holes in the trunk with his .45 automatic
  • it was assumed that the gang members were driving westward toward California, since reports heard on the radio announced that the gang had assaulted a service station north of Gallup, NM; meanwhile, Cody's gang members (including Verna and Big Ed) were nervously awaiting Cody's arrival and worried he would be seeking revenge: (Verna: "It ain't just like waitin' for some human being who wants to kill ya. Cody ain't human"); all the gang members but Verna and Big Ed had fled to San Bernardino, CA
  • Ma had been shot in the back and killed by Verna when she opposed Big Ed, and Verna was preparing to run off, but Big Ed was resolved to stick around with Verna, confront Jarrett and end it all: ("The world ain't big enough, sugar, not when he finds out what you did to his Ma...Cody still ain't gonna like to hear that she got it in the back")

Verna Caught Running Away From Big Ed by Cody

Verna Convincingly Lied to Cody that Big Ed Had Killed Cody's Ma

Cody Watching Verna With Big Ed in Upstairs Bedroom

Big Ed Shot By Cody Through the Door in the Back As He Fled Out of the Upstairs Bedroom
  • instead of remaining there, the terror-stricken Verna decided to sneak away; she climbed out a window and rushed to the garage, where a hand covered her mouth to silence her scream; Cody was ready to half-strangle her for betraying him; Verna convinced him that it was Big Ed who had killed Ma: ("He got her in the back"); the quick-thinking Verna accompanied Cody, to warn him that Big Ed had "the house rigged up like a trap" - Cody stalked after Big Ed into the upstairs bedroom and killed him as he fled with two shots in his back through the door; fatally wounded, Big Ed tumbled from the head of the stairs down to an intermediate landing
  • in a lodging house, the larger re-assembled gang (composed of Cody, Pardo, the Reader, Ryley, Cotton, Happy Taylor, and Het Kohler) discussed their next plan - a Long Beach, CA factory heist originally devised by the late Big Ed; in their scheme, a 5,000 gallon gas truck that they had bought for $12,000 would be used to block the chemical factory's gate during the getaway; the gang prepared the gas truck for the payroll theft of $50,000 by cutting a hole from the truck's storage compartment into the tank with a blow torch - to re-enact the Trojan Horse ruse (a story told to Cody by his Ma when he was a kid) in order to enter the factory
  • as they prepared, a fisherman drove up to the rural country hideout in a station wagon, asking to use the phone - the man identified himself as Daniel Winston - the Trader (Fred Clark) - Cody's fence, who complimented Cody on his robbery plan; he showed off blueprints of the chemical plant near Long Beach - their target - that would have $426,000 payroll money in its safe before closing time the next day; the Trader announced the plan: "Your truck will be driven past these checkers by an ex-convict of my acquaintance" - he was referring to ex-convict and accomplice Bo Creel who worked at the plant [Note: Fallon/Pardo had already avoided being seen by Creel at the prison, and now might face him again.]
  • Cody proudly revealed that Pardo had filled the emotional void left by his Ma's death, and would get the same share as the late Ma Jarrett: "Vic's my partner. Fifty-fifty"; however, that night, Pardo was caught trying to sneak out to notify the authorities about the heist; he told Cody that his excuse was to see his wife in Los Angeles, who he had not seen in a long time; Cody had been wandering in the woods around the house in the darkness, thinking about his deceased Ma; he delivered a soliloquy about her, thanking her for saving him from the same fate as his father and brother: "Always tryin' to put me on top. Top of the world, she used to say. And then, times when I'd be losin' my grip, there she'd be right behind me, pushin' me back up again. And now...That was a good feelin' out there, talkin' to her, just me and Ma. Good feelin'. Liked it. Maybe I am nuts"; Cody invited Pardo to join him for a drink inside and suggested an alternative: "We'll pick up your wife after the job tomorrow"

Cody Sharing a Drink and Vacation Plans with Verna

Verna Riding Piggyback on Cody - as They Proceded Upstairs to Have Sex
  • the two shared a drink with Verna, when Cody promised that the foursome would share a vacation together as two couples; Cody became amorous and drunk with Verna (who was dreaming of a European vacation after the heist); after they left for their bedroom, with Verna riding piggyback on him, Pardo found time to modify Verna's broken-down portable radio into an oscillating tracking device that he attached to the gas truck's rear axle the next morning
  • on the day of the heist on their way to the Long Beach plant, at a gas station while stopping to fix the gas truck's overheated radiator, Pardo was able to scroll an alert message on the mirror of the rest-room, alerting Evans to track their radio signal: ("ATTENTION POLICE CALL EVANS - TREASURY. RADIO SIGNAL FALLON"); shortly later, the station attendant read the note and contacted the authorities; on the trip to the plant in the gas truck, at the rendezvous point (Charlie's Roadhouse) where the other gang members had been waiting (plus the Trader and Bo Creel), they piled "into the wooden horse" - unbeknownst to Fallon/Pardo, the truck was driven by Bo Creel
  • Evans led other officers that were tracking the radio signal (from the oscillator under the truck), using a round antenna on three police vehicles and employing the principle of triangulation to determine the location of their moving target and then parket target
Tracking the Gas Truck's Location Toward the Long Beach, CA Area
  • in the film's closing sequence, the gas truck was waved through the huge chemical plant's gates, and was parked outside the Accounting Office; after Bo knocked out the guard inside the office, he shouted out to Cody that he recognized Vic Pardo was an informant and federal agent: "Hey Cody, that guy's a copper... He's a T-man. I know him. His name is Fallon...He pinched me four years ago." Cody was stunned, uncomprehending and refusing to admit that he had been betrayed by his equally cold-blooded, close friend; from behind, Pardo/Fallon was knocked out by the butt of Cotton's gun and disarmed; but then, instead of killing Pardo, Cody planned to use him as a hostage - as his "ace in the hole. He's gonna walk us out of here"; Pardo warned: "They won't make any deals"
  • Evans' voice blared out on a loudspeaker - he ordered the gang to surrender now that they were surrounded; Verna had already been apprehended and selfishly and flirtatiously bartered unsuccessfully for a deal with Evans if she could coax Jarrett to come out; in retrospect, she was the only 'gang member' who survived by film's end!
  • Cody mocked Evans' warnings and shot back with a tommy-gun as he madly conversed with his Ma: ("How do ya like that, Ma?"); as tear gas bombs caused the office to fill with blinding smoke, Cody aimed at Fallon to kill him, but accidentally shot Cotton; Fallon was able to escape from the building, to warn Evans that the Trader-fence Daniel Winston could be apprehended at Charlie's Roadhouse near Colton, CA
  • Happy and Het were mowed down by machine-gun fire; in the intricate, maze-like labyrinth of metal pipes and catwalks as the law closed in, Cody exchanged fire, killing a few law officers; Bo Creel was killed and one by one, the other members of the gang were killed in the ambush; Ryley and Cody were the only two left; Evans warned his men about firing into the volatile area: ("Don't fire unless you've got a perfect target. That place is a stack of dynamite")
  • in the famous, climactic scene ending the film, Cody defiantly scrambled higher and higher around a globe-shaped holding tank with curving stairs circling the steel bulbous sides of a Hortonsphere; at the top of the sphere, he even gleefully fired upon Ryley as he turned himself over to the police; Cody was the only one left, cornered high atop one of the gas storage tanks at a dead end - he taunted the cops with a cocky retort: "Come and get me"; Jarrett laughed maniacally as he was repeatedly wounded while standing astride the globe-like tank - or on top of the world itself - hit by fire from Fallon's high-powered, scoped-rifle

Cody With Tommy-Gun: "That was Cody Jarrett talking!"

Threatening to Kill Fallon: "Here's yours, copper!"

Cody Accidentally Shot and Killed Cotton

Chase Through Chemical Plant

Cody and Ryley Last Two Left

Ryley Shot by Cody As He Surrendered

Cody: "Come and Get Me!"

Cody Firing at the Tanks Around Him

Cody's Demise: "Made it Ma, top of the world!"
  • out of his mind, the cackling, psychotically-mad Cody deliberately emptied his pistol into the giant gas-tanks of the chemical plant to ignite them and immolate himself; he hysterically lifted his face skyward, held out both arms, and cried out to his dead mother that he had fulfilled her oft-repeated advice to him - immortality: "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" his final cry marked his fiery demise atop the globe-shaped gas tanks as they exploded in the climax, and rose up in a series of mushroom clouds
  • the emotionless, unsympathetic Fallon provided an additional epitaph as clouds of smoke billowed up and firelight flickered on his face: "He finally got to the top of the world... and it blew right up in his face" - the film's concluding words

Four Gangsters in a Black Vehicle With Cody Jarrett (James Cagney) Pursuing Train in High Sierras

(l to r): Happy Taylor and Big Ed on the Train Threatening Two Conductors

Verna Jarrett (Virginia Mayo) and Big Ed Somers (Steve Cochran)

Cody's Ma Jarrett (Margaret Wycherly)

Ma Jarrett Massaging Cody's Pained Head

Cody Comforted by His Ma Jarrett, Sitting In Her Lap

Cody to Verna: "You'd look good in a shower curtain"

US T-Man Phillip Evans (John Archer), Headquartered in LA

The Gang's Hideout in a Los Angeles Motel

Cody Surrenders in Springfield, IL to Lesser Charges of Robbing a Hotel

Undercover Agent "Copper" Hank Fallon (Edmond O'Brien)

Teletype Report on Cody in Illinois - Sentenced to a Prison Term

Fallon and Cody Bumping Into Each Other After Cody's Sentencing in a Springfield, IL Courtroom ("How is he? Tough?")

Cody's Lip-Reading Cellmate Herbert the Reader (G. Pat Collins)

Cody Suspicious About Fallon/Vic Pardo in Prison

In the Infirmary, About-to-be-Released Bo Creel Was Asked by Cody to Get Information on the Outside About Big Ed

Fallon/Pardo About to Instigate a Fight with Roy Parker in Line Behind Him, To Escape Being Recognized by Bo Creel

Verna Unhappy with Big Ed's Weakness Compared to Cody

Ma Jarrett Visiting Cody in Springfield, IL Prison

Cody Pleading With His Ma to Not Seek Revenge Against the Traitorous Big Ed

Pardo Massaging Cody's Neck and Comforting Him During Another Migraine Headache in the Machine Shop

Cody Confiding His Plans to Escape to Cellmate Pardo

Pardo Conveying Escape Plan to "Wife" Margaret (Fern Eggen) During Prison Visit

Cody Holding Psychiatrists Hostage After His Strait-Jacket Was Removed

Evans Notified That Jarrett Busted Out of Prison With Four Others

Parker Executed By Jarrett While In Trunk of Sedan

Verna - Fearful of Cody Because She Shot Ma In the Back and Killed Her

The Re-Assembled Gang (top photo: l to r): Cody, Happy, Ryley, Cotton, the Reader, Het, Pardo

Cody's Description of the Trojan Horse Ruse

Cody's Fence (The Trader) Disguised as a Fisherman - Daniel Winston (Fred Clark)

Cody's Soliloquy About His Ma

Oscillator Placed under the Gas Truck by Fallon

Restroom Mirror Message Written by Fallon for Evans

The Gang Members in the Belly of the Gas Truck, Driven by Bo Creel

Gas Truck at Gate Waved Into the Chemical Plant

In the Plant's Accounting Office - Fallon Recognized As a "Copper" by Bo Creel

Cody Stunned By Pardo/Fallon: ("I went for it. Treated him like a kid brother")

Verna Failed To Betray Cody to Evans - She Was Arrested

Fallon's Epitaph For Cody: "He finally got to the top of the world... and it blew right up in his face"


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