Great Moments In Film – White Heat (1949)
To state the obvious, James Cagney was an incredible talent. Mostly known for his mobster roles (such at the one we look at today), but he could also do others genres just as easily, most notably musicals as seen with Yankee Doodle Dandy.
While we look at one of his stereotypical tough guy roles from the very well known White Heat (you know, “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”), I want to bring into attention this power and improvisation in this scene in particular that Cagney has and uses. Caught behind bars, he asks a new comer how his mother is doing. He doesn’t get good news. While the scene will speak for itself, do know that this bit does not play out as everyone on set expected. The surprised reactions you see are complete genuine. They had no idea that Cagney would do what he does here…even if it’s a bit over the top.
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