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According to a May 25, 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film's final shootout was filmed at the wartime Shell Oil plant at 198th and Figueroa in San Pedro, CA. Modern sources add the following information about the production: The opening scenes were filmed in the Santa Susana Mountains near Chatsworth, CA. Jack Warner believed that the scene in which "Cody Jarrett" goes berserk in the mess hall after learning of the death of his mother would be too expensive to film and asked director Raoul Walsh to film it in a chapel instead. Walsh, however, realized the dramatic potential of the scene and assuaged Warner's budgetary concerns by shooting it in three hours. Virginia Kellogg's story won an Oscar nomination for Best Writing. White Heat marked the feature film debut of popular character actor Ford Rainey (1908-2005).
This film was James Cagney's first gangster film since the 1939 Roaring Twenties, directed by Raoul Walsh (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3:3801). Cody's shout on top of the oil tank in the film's climax, "Made it Ma, top of the world!", has entered the popular lexicon. A 1958 television remake of the film, starring Dolores Donlon, was planned, but its production has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Clarence Hennecke to the cast.