Friday, 24 December 2010

I'm A Yankee Doodle Dandy

Since we were so disappointed about nor going to our various family Christmases, and with nothing planned, that we had to open our present A.K.A a film projector. We have watched North By Northwest, Star Wars: A New  Hope, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. After watching James Cagney's yet again spot-on performance as the real life singer-songwriter-playwright-dancer-actor-patriot George M. Cohan, he knocked William Holden out of his place in my top 10 actors list. With some rearranging it put him in 4th place. Here is the review.

Yankee Doodle Dandy

WW2 has recently started and coaxed out of retirement by his devoted wife, Mary, aging theatrical star and composer George M. Cohan is playing Franklin Roosevelt in a new musical "I'd Rather be Right Than Be President". One night he gets a telegram from the president asking him to go and see Roosevelt at the White House. Still theatrical in his old age, his immediate reaction is that he is to be shot at sunrise. When he gets there he is pleasantly surprised to meet a Cohan enthusiast who wants to hear his life story...
~~~Curvy fade into flashback~~~
It's 1878 and on the 4th of July baby George Micheal Cohan is being born. As soon as he could walk and talk he joined his family in their act as a dancer/singer. "The Three Cohans" soon became four as George's mother Nellie had another baby named Josie. They toured the country playing in vaudeville shows. As George says, "They kept adding new stars to the flag and The Four Cohans kept rushing out to meet them."
One month they all get jobs in the new show "Peck's Bad Boy", and George is cast as the lead. After finishing the play with the line, "But I can still lick any kid in town!" he becomes a nightmare with his showing off, and when he goes out to meet some boys backstage he is severely beaten up. Sure he has had the beating he deserves, Jerry Cohan leaves spanking him for a while. A few minutes after, big-time producer Mr. Albee comes to offer them a job, but is put of by George's narcissistic behaviour. Never the less, they get employment in theatres around the country. George meets and falls in love with young singer/dancer Mary, but after he instructs her to sing one of his songs on stage without permission, he is blacklisted by all theatres.
Auditioning a musical for musical producers Dietz and Goff
Partnered up with Sam Harris he produces hit musical after hit musical. Now a one man band with Josie married, Nellie dead and his father aging fast, he travels to see his father as he lies on his deathbed. In an attempt to comfort his father, he says his thank-you speech from the shows they did, "My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you," moments before he dies.
Now retired on a farm, George gets an offer from his old partner Sam Harris to star in a show about the president.
~~~Curvy fade into the present~~~
President Franklin Roosevelt presents him with the Congressional Gold Medal. Overcome with emotion, he tap dances down the stairs of the White House.

The Review:
If you want a good patriotic film this is the best you can do. Watching this on my screen with the perspective of a few years since I last watched the film, I realized just how incredible James Cagney's performance is. I cried my way through Jerry's death scene and felt extremely emotional during "It's a grand ol' flag". The direction is really good, It's by Micheal Curtiz who I think is generally known to be a trustworthy good filmmaker. Another amazing performance is that of Joan Leslie who was only 17 when she played opposite 43 year old Cagney.



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