Friday, July 07, 2006

White Heat

What is White Heat about? About 114 minutes if you want to know the truth. 114 minutes of pure cinema. It is not a story. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. White Heat jump starts (Cagney's character from a railroad overpass) with a train robbery, then quickly establishes a network of cliché crosscurrents and conflicts; but in the process develops no characters or themes and examines no sociological concepts or values. Nor does White Heat end. There is no resolution of issues gone before. It just suddenly stops. Dead. With the famous explosion, of course, that puts Cody Jarret on "Top of the World, Ma!"

White Heat proves that great movies do not require conventional story-telling, dramatic conflict or meaningful character development. A great movie needs only great acting, clear directing and an action line that allows the viewer to enjoy the details of the movie much the same as the notes of a favorite piece of music.

James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien and Steve Cochran lead a cast of good performances that orchestrate like a Prokofiev Symphony.


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