White Heat (1949)

White Heat (1949) James Cagney terrifies as gang leader Cody Jarrett whom not even prison walls can stop from going berzerk and killing as many people as he can. “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” Director Raoul Walsh’s apocalyptic vision exposes man’s capacity for absolute evil, willing to take down all humanity in the service of a self-righteous madness.


And then the fifties discovered Freud.

Sigmund Freud's prosthesis 8241_10209293437714577_8558061366564907704_n

Cody Jarrett, nurtured by his gangster Ma,


Fought headaches from the bleakest void;

                      vSpiral gif

Then, with psychotic glee, gunned down the law.

Cagney with gun-2 200

Cagney with gyn 200

Criminality was caused by bad parents.

Ma & Cagney 200

No longer were the social conditions

Of the Great Depression thought sufficient

gd41                family50

To account for gangs during Prohibition.

2398791_orig                      the-purple-gang

Cagney drew from decades of playing

Mobsters to embody this new approach —


From his own father’s alcoholic rages

Whose violence was outrageous —

Cagney the Musical 10456046_904865550834_7724966108978290916_n

And from dance, Cody’s jittery swaying

Cagney Bounce 200

To give him bounce when he would pounce.

Cornered atop a chemical plant,

His mother dead, with nothing to live for,

MAMA 200

Cody fired at the gas tanks in a mad rant

To blast the world into one giant roar.


That was the fear, after the Second World War,

That a madman with a nuclear strike

nuclear head

Would annihilate everyone in the Cold War


And strontium 90 end all human life.


kidsingasmasks              gas

No one could predict this film’s legacy —

Of suicide bombers, devout fanatics,



Who long to die in religious ecstasy

To keep their culture firmly dogmatic.


Nihilism from a defeated past


Combined with stubborn intransigence —

 Those who have nothing left to live for, go

Take out as many as they can when they go.


[Disposable Poem March 10, 2016]

Dr. Mike

Delve in to the realm of Cagney!
Delve in to the realm of Cagney!


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