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"White Heat" (1949).........


vecchiolarry
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Hi,

 

I just watched "White Heat" (1949) for the first time tonight.......

 

Although I have never been a fan of James Cagney (I could take him or leave him), I must say he should have received his Oscar for this picture and not "Yankee Doodle Dandy" in 1942. He was brilliant tonight.

 

SPOILERS --

 

His was a very unsympathetic character but somehow you understood him and felt for him when he had his epileptic attacks, and it was a 'bravura' performance.

Margaret Wycherley was the paramount evil old bag of a mother of the movies; even Angela Lansbury was a sweet old dearie in "Manchurian Candidate" compared to Wycherley here.....

I have always loved Virginia Mayo, so beautiful -- a goddess -- but here she was a real louse and an actress to boot! Bravo Virginia......

And Steve Cochran was someone I knew quite well and hung out with on his yacht. He taught me how to drive and in LA too!!! It was good to see him again, but he was a creepazoid in this too. Yikes...

 

Great movie and great performances!!!!!!!

 

Anybody else think so????

 

Larry

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To vecchiolarry, I had inquired about a couple stars that you might have

met years ago, however I never got a reply? I am not certain anyway, you may have replied-(I have been ill, again) & simply cannot check into TCM as much as I would like to of course-(P.S. A warningto those with any medical problems. Stay away from FLORIDA KIDDOS!)

 

Among those were *Cagney, ironically enough?

 

& of course *"The Great: Spencer Tracy"/ *"TheChairman of the Board: Sinatra" & Natalie Wood???-(please drop me a line, if you ever bumped into any of these now gone celebs!?)

 

& on '49's superb "White Heat" (WB) I was surprised you had managed to miss this crime-drama giant! Have you ever seen *Jim in his 1938 "Angels With Dirty Faces?" (also of course Warner Bros.) & his first of only 3 AMPAS nominations

As thee original "Rocky"

 

It was his idea-(as a kid, he had a terrifying time, by visiting an actual NYC mental ward & it stayed with the man rest of his life)

He did not care to play Arthur Cody Jarrett in "WH" So, he came-up with concept of him being nuts. Otherwise, it was another hack job to him. He preferred the singin & dancing roles. Or '57's "Man of a Thousand Faces"-(another disgraceful Oscar injustice)

 

Glad you finally got to see this heavyweight!

 

I know a lady of whom via accident, met *James Cagney-(1899-1986)

She got lost in upstate NY & bumped into 1 of his horse-farms.

She ended up staying entire day just visiting.

It still seems like yesterday to her though

 

See ya & please reply

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To vecchio, Steve Cochran, died under rather mysterious circumstances, I think-(on his boat)

Do you know anything of this as well?

 

& as for V. Mayo-(also, now gone)

 

It may sound chauvenistic, but this lady is not known for her looks.-(not as much as a Grable,etc) Somewhat so, but she really had some superb gams-(aka legs)

They were actually pretty good pals-(*James & her)

 

Another *Cagney to check out 4 you>1955's "Love Me or Leave Me" (MGM) it's based on fact & Ruth Etting.

He snagged his 3rd & final nod. as Marty "The Gimp" Snyder

 

& 1 you may have trouble ver finding on tv-(let alone dvd,video) Most know of 1981's grand picture "Ragtime" However, his actual grande finale is a 1984 tv-movie called "Terrible Joe Moran" (*Art Carney & Ellen Barkin co-star)

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Hi Spencer,

 

I?m sorry you?ve been ill; hope you?re recuperating now??.

 

I did reply somewhere on this board to your query about Cagney, Tracy, Sinatra and Natalie.

Tracy and Cagney: didn?t know or even see them. Cagney lived in the Eastern US in the fifties when I lived in LA.

Sinatra: saw him about 3 or 4 times in my life. I disliked him as he was a very nasty piece of work. In fact, my whole family detested all the Sinatra clan, except for Nancy, Sr.

Natalie: saw her on the set, rehearsing once her ?I?m So Pretty? number from ?West Side Story?. Joan Copeland, Christopher Hewitt and I went to visit George Chakiris but never got to meet Natalie.

 

Yes, Virginia Mayo was a classic beauty and her legs were every bit as good as Grable?s. Both were goddesses as far as I?m concerned.

 

You couldn?t help but love Steve Cochran and many did. He was a boyfriend of my grandmother, two or three times over the years. In fact, she and Merle Oberon shared him for a while. Once there was a photograph of him escorting both into the Mocombo in NYC and Walter Winchell, a bitchy gossip writer, in his column saying, ?Did Steve Cochran have white bread or brown bread for breakfast this morning??? Nell was blonde and Merle was dark haired, of course.....

 

Steve Cochran died on board his yacht (or rather, schooner) in the middle of the Pacific off Mexico or Guatemala. He had apparently just visited Merle in Acapulco the week before. There were 3 or 4 girls present, but none knew how to operate the boat or it had run out of fuel (??????). It drifted out to sea for a week, then the US Coast Guard intercepted it.

There were lurid stories about him being poisoned and stabbed but these were untrue. Nobody would have ever murdered him ? he was too jolly and lovable and harmless?.

My grandmother, Nell, bought him that boat, ?The Rogue?, he died on.

Ironically, he had just been a pallbearer for dear old Nell a month before. He was very overtaken with her sudden death and cried like a baby.

 

Well Spencer, I hope you are feeling better and sitting in the sun??

 

Take care,

Larry

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Hi Larry, good to see you around again.

 

I also love "White Heat," ever since I first saw it on video years ago. The last time I watched it was at the Museum of Modern Art when they screened it as part of a festival of some kind, and ironically Virginia Mayo had just passed away about a week before the screening. I thought of it as a tribute to her, rather than part of their festival, whatever festival it was.

 

I think everyone in the movie is brilliant, especially Cagney who really blew me away. He really lets his emotions tear loose in his performance. I don't know where he got some of the anger and boldness to do what he did, especially in the scene (**spoiler**) where he learns of his mother's death. And the scene where he kicks the chair out from underneath Virginia Mayo as she's standing on it modeling her mink is priceless. My best friend who I brought with me to the screening burst out in laughter at that. He really gives one of the great performances of all time in this movie, and it's probably the best portrayal of a gangster ever given on screen.

 

And you're right about Margaret Wycherley, she was great as his mom, but I didn't view her as evil. To me she was just immersed in her sons life, and totally wrapped up in that gangster lifestyle. And the car scene is brilliant (**another spoiler**). Here the Feds think they're following some little old lady, but she's got them all pegged!

 

I also think Edmond O'Brien was great too. He doesn't really get the recognition that he deserves as an actor, and he was really good in this, one of his most well remembered performances. He's the typical "good cop" who will do anything to catch Cagney, but it isn't a cardboard performance. You really see the intelligence, vulnerability, and fear in his character.

 

Great movie, and I'm glad it was picked as an "Essential," and I'm glad you finally saw it Larry!

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Cagney is magnificent in this film. Just spot on in every scene.

 

On a side note, my father met Cagney in upstate NY as well many years ago. I can't believe he didn't bring me along, but Cagney was considering putting lightning rods on his house/barns and that's what my dad was doing at the time. He told me Cagney was very down to earth and a perfect gentleman -- just as you'd expect. What a lost opportunity! I would have loved to have met him!!! Argh!!!

 

What I think is particularly strong about his performance is that he never overplays it. He just takes on this role of the cold-blooded, mother-fixated nutball and goes for it -- yet, at many moments we are left thinking, "Hey, he's not such a bad guy." Then, boom, he returns to form.

Just brilliant acting, which is perhaps lost in the "it's just a gangster film" nature of the material.

 

Ron

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Hi Ron,

 

Too bad you didn't tag along that day with your father. I bet you could kick yourself now.

I'll bet Mrs. Cagney would have treated you like royalty. I've heard that she was a very warm and cheerful person, who loved kids. And, Mr. Cagney would have been thrilled with a young fan!!

The old classic movie stars knew how to treat their fans and the Cagneys were both class acts, I've heard.

 

Cagney should have been awarded the Oscar for this picture, as I've said... He was robbed!!!!

 

Larry

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Hi -

 

Yea, I have very few regrets in my life, but that is certainly one of them. Would have been a blast to meet him! On the other hand...it is often bad business to meet your heroes -- as they all too often let you down. Maybe it's best left the way it was...

 

Ron

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