Cody Jarrett was a Mama's boy. Problem is, his Mama was a bad girl and criminal's widow raising her son to be just like his father.
The hard hearted and notorious wife abusing leader of his pack seems incapable of empathy towards anyone except his mother, doesn't trust easily, and doesn't think twice about killing someone off, so catching him won't be easy for the cops.
This story gives an interesting look into what, at the time, were some technological advances for its era, highlighting "instant data", car phones, and even a local version of global positioning.
Now, teletyping is nothing new - the first teleprinter was invented in the early 1800's and by 1844 was in use by telegraph systems. But in this film, I noticed that there was an inference of "instant data" via a teletype that printed some interesting data on the suspects, showing that Hollywood was exploring technological advances in criminology and reporting. And the same applied with photo technology - they could compare the dust from someone's clothes to the dust at the crime scene and it was "exactly the same" so that's how they knew they had their man, and combined with the data printout - their investigation seemed pretty easy.
So they manage to locate their suspect via his mother, who was on the run with him, so go figure - and lo and behold, we see another new technological advance - the car phone.
According to Wikipedia, the first car phone was used in the St. Louis area in about 1946 - just a few short years before this film's release in 1949.
So this movie was exciting not just because of the story line, but also the technology that was being introduced to the public.
A long time ago, my father in law once told me that a lot of the technology that was used for the war effort during WWII was released for public use - so it was no surprise to me to learn that the technological advances seen in this movie were used by the US Military prior to being used by the general public.
Also, this seems to be one of Cagney's better roles - as if he could ever have had a bad one. He really did an awesome job - his body language, facial expressions, even the look in his eyes were really something. He played this role with what appeared to be a natural intensity - especially in the scenes involving Vic Pardo (played by Edmond O'Brien). His character actually had a tender moment or two, not something one would expect from a psychopathic killer, I suppose, when he confided some personal, intimate details of his life to a guy he didn't trust or like at first.
Vic was really Hank Fallon, an undercover cop. All he wanted to do was go on vacation - he had a fishing trip planned - when his plans were interrupted by a new assignment. He had to go to prison to befriend the suspect and get the goods on him. At one point his cover was almost blown by a prisoner he nabbed years earlier, but he managed to get out of that and get Jarrett to place his confidence in him.
It's a pretty exciting and action packed flick - I enjoyed it, and you can, too, because Warner Brothers released it on Blu-ray this week in a 5 disc gift set that contains 3 other movies (Little Ceasar, The Public Enemy, and the Petrified Forest) plus bonus features, and a small hard-bound collector's "coffee table" book packed full of interesting information about the releases. Additionally you'll find a full length documentary called, "Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film", which highlights the gangster films and discusses their popularity and history.
This might make a great father's day gift.
Read more about this set