CAGNEY – WHITE HEAT

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Not having seen WHITE HEAT in a while, I always believed that the last line in the movie was the famous one –

“MADE IT,MA. TOP OF THE WORLD!”
Not so. Edmond O’Brien looks up at the explosion and says:
“HE FINALLY GOT TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD, AND IT BLEW UP IN HIS FACE.”l
What an anti-climax.
Cagney should have got the final word. Who can forget that maniacal laugh as he literally blows himself up.

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I had forgotten too that James Cagney became the legendary tough guy almost by accident. In his break- though role in PUBLIC ENEMY ,he was originally cast as the good guy, until Darryl Zanuck saw the early rushes and changed his role.
Cagney crushed grapefruit in Mae Clarke’s face and a legend was born.

Another great Cagney death scene at the end of The Roaring Twenties when he lies dead in Gladys George’s arms and she tells the policeman,
“HE USED TO BE A BIG SHOT.”

6 responses »

  1. Cagney was given a great exit in all three of the movies you mention here – the way he’s “delivered” back home in Public Enemy is actually quite shocking.

  2. Of course. I should have mentioned these two. The ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES ending is unbeatable . Cagney is just terrific.
    Thanks, Colin.

  3. Cagney definitely had some of the greatest death scenes – I love him in all those you have mentioned here and definitely agree that Edmond O’Brien’s line at the end of ‘White Heat’ is an anti-climax, as you say.

  4. I love, Jimmy, I have seen every one of his 64 films. He was a special person and actor. The book Cagney by John Mccabe is the definitive Cagney bio.

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