Though James Cagney rose to fame at Warner Bros. in the 1930s -- most notably in 1931's "The Public Enemy" -- playing ruthless gangsters, the bantam-sized actor had stayed away from the genre for a decade because he wanted to play different roles. But in 1949, he made a mesmerizing return to the gangster flick in this riveting film noir directed by the Raoul Walsh.
Cagney gives an audaciously daring performance as Cody Jarrett, the ruthless and psychotic leader of a gang of robbers.
Cody, though, suffers from blinding headaches and is mollycoddled by his mother (Margaret Wycherly) much to the chagrin of his moll (Virginia Mayo). The classic finale finds Cody and his men in a gunfight with the feds. After his gang is killed, Cody runs to a nearby oil tanker and shouts "Made it Ma, top of the world!" before the tank explodes after it is riddled with bullets. The finale was shot at the Shell Oil plant at 198th and Figueroa streets in San Pedro.