Made in 1949
Directed: By Raoul Walsh
Starring: James Cagney* Virginia Mayo* Edmond O’Brien
Cagney plays a psychotic criminal Cody Jarrett who also has a severe mother complex,he has headaches which he used to get the attention of his mother which then became real, his mother puts all her faith in him, and always tells him “He’s on top of the world” add to the mix his pretty cheating wife(Mayo)
Cody now in prison on a lesser charge giving him an alibi for much more serious robbery, there he meets Purdo( O’Brian) who is working undercover and befriends Cody to discover where he hid the bonds from the robbery.
Whilst in prison his wife plots with one of the gang to have him killed and when that fails they shoot his mother, the scene in the prison cafeteria has to be seen to be believed, and he decides to break out mainly to extract revenge for his mother and to rob the payroll from a Chemical plant.
He and Purdo (O’Brien) are now close friends and he opens up to him more but can do nothing to blow his cover as Cody becomes increasingly more disturbed,his wife terrified blames her lover who Cody murders.
The robbery at the chemical plant goes wrong and Purdo (O’Brien) is recognised by a new gang member and tells Cody who loses what little grip he has on reality , the plant is surrounded and Cody is left alone, these scenes are really intense as he completely unravels, his sniggering and swagger apparent as he shoots it out with the police.
The ending one of the cinematic greats and Cagney can’t be surpassed in this role the only person comparable I feel is Joe Pesci in fully psychotic mode, all the actors play their part in this tightly scripted film noir classic.