Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Greatest movie scenes ever # 30

Sorry already, Done. Warning : if you've never seen White Heat and you plan to see it one day, then, please don't read any further or just scroll right down to the Juvenile song at the end. Well, unless you don't like Juve, I guess, but if you're not down with Mr J-u-v-e then, sheesh, what's wrong with you?

I dunno if a sizeable portion of directors who worked throughout the eighties all attended the same film school where they were endlessly shown White Heat as an example of great movie-making, but the decade was a particularly fruitful era for villains literally going out in a blaze like Cagney's Cody Jarrett on the gas storage tanker : Freddy usually exploding into flames at the climax of every Elm Street flick; various shady government agents and punk hoodlums left as nothing but pairs of smoldering boots after opening the trunk of the '64 Chevy Malibu in Repo Man; James Bond temporarily distracting the petrol soaked Franz Sanchez with a question before lighting his ass up in Licence To Kill; vamps getting Guy Fawkesed in The Lost Boys and both Fright Night movies; the cackling alien Fourth Of Julying himself all like "You, kill me? Whigga please!" in Predator; all the Gremlins bar Stripe going up in smoke as they were trapped in the cinema after their screening of Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs was rudely interrupted in Gremlins; and MacReady blowing up the creature, taking the base with it, and thus that ensuring him and Childs would spend their last days on Earth freezing to death in The Thing. I'd have gone with the Rather Let The Thing Assimilate Me And Fly His Ship Back To His Home Planet option, personally - at least alien spaceships would have home-comforts like heating, electricity, and a working toilet.

If you were as underwhelmed by Public Enemies as me last year (though I've never really been a fan of Micheal Mann and there was no way it was ever going to rival the 1973 Dillinger movie with Warren Oates) then rewatching White Heat, which arguably shares more traits with Film Noir and the Western than it does with your traditional American Gangster movie encumbered with social commentary about them poor immigrants forced into a life of racktereering, was the perfect remedy to yet another Mann movie which consisted of one good lead performance and a handful of amazingly well done scenes strung together with an otherwise fairly boring hour or so. Oh, and a terrible turn by Christian Bale proving once and for all that he's really bad at doing stern and understated.

As a blackout suffering gang boss with overwhelming mother issues which affected his relationship with his wife, David Chase freely admits that Cody Jarrett was a key inspiration when he was sketching out the character profile for Tony Soprano, while Scorsese once noted in an Empire interview that homicidal mamma's boy Jarrett was the precedent for Pesci's Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas. That's all hunky dory, but if only Virginia Mayo's performance as his moll Verna Jarrett could be as influential to the modern British woman. Sure, Verna didn't actually love Cody and, yeah, she was guilty of infidelity, being involved in the murder of his beloved ma' and conspiring to have him killed on two seperate occassions, BUT she was the original "she talk dirty, but her mouth clean" broad who'd spit her gum out before kissing her man and you really gotta respect such class in this uncivilised age where every wench in this country has a fag permanently hanging from their gob and at least 5 seperate, possibly septic tongue piercings.

Bonus beats to Fire Walk with :

Juvenile - Juvenile On Fire

From the Hot Boy$ era when various forms of pyromania were a ubiqitous motif for Ca$h Money Records rappers. Handily, this is my favourite song on Juvenile's 400 Degreez and if you've never wrapped a towel around your head into the shape of a solja rag as you rap along to anything by Juve in the shower then we'll never be anything more than vague acquaintances. Can we pinpoint Wayne's Fireman as officially marking the end of the Hot Boy$ era? That original line-up reunion with Mannie production is never going to happen and, although I'm sure Baby & Slim will put togrther a Hot Boy$ 2.0 with Drake, Tyga and Jay Sean replacing Juve, B.G, and Turk, I'll pretend it didn't happen like The Next Karate Kid in 1994 and the recent Jaden Smith reboot.


done said...

you should really rename these posts greatest movie spoilers ever.
i mean iv wanted to see this since i saw part of it as a kid an i learned far too much before i stopped readin, a bit of warnin would be cool is all

MF said...

True, true. Fair point.

Still worth seeing regardless, though, and it's only a fiver.

done said...

ha cheers appreciate it, im bound to forget what i read eventually tho so its grand.

thay juvie tune got me thinkin: i wonder if mannie had of died instead of dilla would he have that same revisionist g.o.a.t. status?
he had a bunch of hits, shit like "straight from da ramp" and "chopper city in da ghetto" are production masterclasses and what new york producer had 7-minute dj cut up songs in 1992? plus a mannie fresh changed my life tee would look the bidness

MF said...

Yeah, I fuck with some Dilla but I musta missed the memo when he went from being "that dude who made De La/Tribe/The Pharcyde not as good as they used to be" to "OMG bestest producer evah!!!!!"

A Mannie Fresh Changed My Life tee would be even better than that Ramones parody Dipset tee :


My man Sha Deezy teels me White Heat is on Googlevideo.

done said...

nice one, that new google video search is throwin up all sorts of treasures. might watch it tomorrow

yeah dillas overrated. dont get me wrong, i see where everyone is fawning over him, but that innovative/original shit is cool for production nerds, but you have to have the catalogue of bangers to back it up too. wheres his "living proof", "doggystyle" or "main ingredient"? even the neptunes have that first clipse album and they were only great for 5 years or so

and that dipset tee is comedy.

MF said...

If Fantastic Volume 2 is your Doggy Style, OB4CL, or Chopper City In The Ghetto then it's like "ummm, ok".

2SHIN said...


James Cagney has done more for the bitches ain't shit movement than any rapper ever.

I feel J.C, I feel you dawg.

Boothe said...

co-sign on all the Dilla talk here.

Boothe said...

lol...damn Done. Did you read my blog post before or after coming here?

For a movie this old, I have to say the onus is on you.

MF said...

He still reps in White Heat, when he kicks Virginia Mayo off a stool, 2Shin.

What's more, it was an unscripted moment. Gotta respect the dedication.

done said...

gonna have to add public enemy to the watch-list after that bit of genius

ha i actually read this one first weirdly enough boothe.

and in the 22 years iv been watchin tv iv only come across white heat once, suppose i needa step me ebay game up. i did once have a girlfriend who had never seen ghostbusters tho, damn near made me wanna grapefruit a batch.

tray said...

I've never seen White Heat - shit, I've never seen ANY Walsh - and I didn't expect it to be anything like that. The editing seems way ahead of its time. Kind of verite, kind of Fullerian.

MF said...

Sorry I've spoiled the plot and ending for you too then, I guess.

Yeah, both good comparisons since it's much more realistic looking than most of your other Hollywood pictures from the same period but it's still incredibly stylish.

It's really quite brutal for a movie made in 1949.

tray said...

I'm just struck by how matter-of-fact and distanced it is. Cagney's big moment is rendered in a series of unempathetic medium and long shots. Not a single close-up. I've never really seen anything like that in something from this period.

tray said...

Actually, that's not true, Preminger could've shot this in a somewhat similar way, though he wouldn't edit it anything like this. The way the camera progressively jumps back from the action is really striking.

dj said...

Public Enemies was seriously disappointing. I actually bothered to go to the cinema and shit, and while it was obviously shot beautifully, and Depp put in an excellent performance, I didn't really ever connect with it.

Plus there was only so many times that Mann can pull off "likeable villain" and "unlikeable hero". I pretty much feel like he needs to give up on that now.

MF said...

The guy who edited it, Owen Marks, was also behind The Petrified Forest, Angels With Dirty Faces, The Oklahoma Kid, Casablanca, East Of Eden, and a bunch of other movies I've never seen or, in some cases, even heard of.

MF said...

He's doing some tv movie with Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte about a bunch of guys who frequent the same racetrack next, DJ, so you just know he's gonna have the sympathetic badguy and unlikeable goodguy in that.