W: Ivan Goff & Ben Roberts [based on a
story by Virginia Kellogg]
DP: Sid Hickox
Ed: Owen Marks
Mus: Max Steiner
James Cagney (Arthur Cody Jarrett), Virginia Mayo
(Verna Jarrett), Edmond O'Brien (Hank Fallon/Vic Pardo), Margaret Wycherly (Ma Jarrett), Steve Cochran (Big Ed Somers), John Archer (Phillip Evans)
"Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" - These iconic lines of
dialogue are often misquoted in this classic crime drama, as is the "You dirty rat" line which James Cagney only alludes to saying.
Cagney plays a gangster kingpin with a mother complex,
confessing to a petty crime so he can escape a death sentence and serve a smaller prison term, but when his mother is killed during his incarceration, he carries out an escape plan so he can
serve revenge on those responsible.
Though originally released in 1949, this is a throwback to the
1930's gangster pictures which made Cagney a household name. If you weren't to know the date of production, you'd think no different. It just has that style, which dates it to a point, but it's
still a hugely influential piece of film noir.