This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

6Mar/11

MONDAY NIGHTS WITH OSCAR: WHITE HEAT

James Cagney isn’t about to let anything stop him from reaching the top of the world in film noir classic

WHITE HEAT (Raoul Walsh, 1949)
Academy Theater at Lighthouse
111 East 59th St.
Monday, March 7, $5, 7:00
www.oscars.org

Raoul Walsh’s film noir classic White Heat might have been nominated for a mere single Oscar, losing for Best Motion Picture Story (losing to The Stratton Story), but it quickly came to be considered one of the greatest gangster pictures ever made. The 1949 film stars James Cagney as Cody Jarrett, a devout criminal married to the beautiful moll Verna (Viriginia Mayo) but still deeply (and unhealthily) attached to his mother (Margaret Wycherly). While doing time for a train robbery gone wrong, Jarrett finds out that his gang has been taken over by his former flunkie Big Ed Somers (Steve Cochran), who also seems to have taken over Verna as well. Jarrett decides he must break out of jail, setting the stage for an unforgettable climax. Walsh (High Sierra, They Died with Their Boots On) doesn’t concentrate just on the action, of which there is plenty, instead focusing on Jarrett’s troubled psyche as he blindly seeks revenge. White Heat will be showing March 7 as part of the Academy’s monthly Mondays with Oscar series, even though Oscar was not very kind to it; the nominees for Best Picture that year were All the King’s Men, Battleground, The Heiress, A Letter to Three Wives, and Twelve O’Clock High, while the Best Actor nominees were winner Broderick Crawford (All the King’s Men), Kirk Douglas (Champion), Gregory Peck (Twelve O’Clock High), Richard Todd (The Hasty Heart), and John Wayne (Sands of Iwo Jima). The screening will be introduced by screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King, The Horse Whisperer).

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