Musical about composer, actor, dancer, singer, George M. Cohan. — Item Type: DVD Movie — Item Rating: NR — Street Date: 04/05/05 — Wide Screen: no — Director Cut: no — Special Edition: no — Language: ENGLISH — Foreign Film: noSubt... more »itles: no
The most "American" movie ever made? Quite possibly!
M J Heilbron Jr. | Long Beach, CA United States | 01/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh what an out-and-out joy is this film! As you know by now, the amazing James Cagney sings, dances and acts his way through this rousing biopic of George M. Cohan. He's directed by Michael Curtiz, a director who apparently could work in any genre of movie, and produce masterpieces. Pull up his name on imdb and you'll see what I mean.
Anyways, the film traces his life from his infant vaudevillian beginnings to his conquering of Broadway. After seeing this, you'll know why there's a statue of Cohan in Times Square.
The acting, as expected, is top-notch, with the sweet Joan Leslie as his love interest Mary, Walter Huston as his dad; Cagney's sister plays Cagney's sister...but what will bring you to see this movie again and again are the musical interludes.
Cagney is simply spectacular. He is a comet, bouncing around the Broadway stage. His dancing often flirts with straight-out levitation. I swear there are times when his feet fly across the screen...
Then consider the songs..."Yankee Doodle Dandy", "Mary", "Give My Regards to Broadway" and the most patriotic song I've ever heard, "Over There."
That song was written for the troops of WW I, and this film was being made when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The way this one song is used in this film, I guarantee, will stay with you forever. And knowing that this movie was made during that time only enhances your experience...but I didn't know it until afterwards, and it made no difference.
And that leads to the one thing I feel is overlooked in most reviews of this film: the script. It's has a strong story, great lines, terrific set-pieces and delightful twists. It's funny as all-get-out, and heart-wrenching when you least expect it.
The movie is as American as can be...the rags-to-riches rise of the central figure in Broadway history (the Broadway musical being essentially an American creation), the way his family travels to all the new states as they are incorporated...the evolution of New York City...WW I...WW II...it's all here!
And from beginning to end, Cohan (and the filmmakers) wear their "Grand Old Flag" on their proverbial sleeves, proudly and unabashedly. Patriotism is a definite theme througout the film, rising to dizzying heights right before the credits. Patriotism portrayed simply and honestly, without any hard political bent or satirical edge.
The DVD, one of those sweet Warner 2-disc sets, is exemplary...great transfer, nice extras...bravo Warner, again, for treating your classics with respect.
It's inarguable: this is one of the great films of all time. I envy those of you about to see it for the first time, and I assure you it won't be your last!"
Dwight Schmidlap | Springfield, USA | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"GREAT FILM! And making it to the top 100 (for the 100 best movies ever made), this musical starring James Cagney as George M. Cohan is about the life of Cohan and the 4 Cohan's. George Cohan, wrote songs such as "The Yankee Doodle Boy", "Give My Regards to Broadway", "Overthere", "You're a Grand Old Flag", "Mary", "Off The Record", "H.A.R.R.I.G.A.N." etc....In this movie playing his sister (Josie Cohan), is really his real sister (Jeanne Cagney). And on the set, Eddie Foy was played by a son of his (Eddie Foy Jr.). At the ending when James Cagney is walking down the stairs, then is tap dancing was not in the script. Originally Cagney was to just walk down, the rest he improvised.If you're interested in musicals with good stories to tell and song & dances numbers (that were first done by Cohan when the plays first came out and were a big hit.), this would be a good movie to get for your classic musical collection."
The fellow's got the golden touch
Steven Hellerstedt | 07/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jimmy Cagney does it all in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, the exuberant biography of patriotic song-and-dance man George M. Cohan. I don't know much about Cohan beyond what I've learned from the film and Rudy Behlmer's commentary and I don't trust that the movie was aiming at a wart's-and-all portrayal, or much cared about historical accuracy. According to Behlmer Cohan had been married twice and neither wife was named Mary, although sweet Joan Leslie plays Mary Cohan, the film Cohan's one and only wife. Hollywood's Golden Age bio-pics didn't often stop for the facts, so I guess you can't fault this one for twisting things to fit the story. Cohan wrote the hit `Mary's A Grand Old Name,' Behlmer tells us, for his daughter. It fit the movie that Cagney/Cohan wrote it for his then fiancée.
Cagney won an Oscar for his role in this movie and he pretty much owns the show. His pleasure is evident in every frame and it's hard not to get caught up in his enthusiasm. For anyone (like me) who's used to Cagney as a gun-toting gangster YANKEE DOODLE DANDY will come as something of a revelation. Jimmy can sing (well, he sings no worse than Fred Astaire, anyway) and he can dance. The highlight of the movie for me were the vaudeville routines and the many production numbers, including `You're a Grand Old Flag,' `Give My Regards to Broadway,' the anthem of World War I `Over There,' and, of course, `The Yankee Doodle Boy.' YANKEE DOODLE DANDY was just beginning filming when Pearl Harbor was attacked, which may account for some of its strong-to-overpowering patriotism. Still, watching Cagney tap dance down the White House stairs is a treat not to be missed. Surprisingly, this one's in black-in-white, a format I usually prefer, but if ever a movie begged for a red, white, and blue presentation it's YANKEE DOODLE DANDY.
Behlmer's commentary is heavy on the history of the production of the movie, detouring now and then to add tidbits on Cohan's life and career. It's a pleasant enough approach most of the time, but there's a little too much information on what scene was shot on what day. The two documentaries on disk two - "James Cagney: Top of the World" and "Let Freedom Sing! The Story of Yankee Doodle Dandy" are satisfying introductions to the star and the movie (the Cagney documentary is hosted by actor Michael J. Fox). The disks have plenty of other extras, as well. An interesting 1943 short "You, John Jones" starring Cagney as a volunteer air raid warden over here, three classic Warner cartoons, newsreels, etc. As usual with the Warner Home Video release I found the extras pertinent to the feature and most welcome. A strong recommendation for this two-disk set. "
It will make you stand up and cheer for the grand old flag!
weirdo_87 | Rancho Cucamonga, CA USA | 03/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although he will always be well known for his gangster roles, James Cagney's only Academy Award for Best Actor came for his role as George M. Cohan, the hoofer, singer, dancer, actor and playwright portrayed in "Yankee Doodle Dandy". One might suspect that Cagney only won the Oscar because the Academy would never have given it to one of his gangster roles. Or maybe, it was because this film was just what the country needed in the early days of World War II. Or maybe, the academy actually was recognizing Cagney's abilities as an actor. Whatever the reason, Jimmy deserved the award. Who ever knew he could do that kind of footwork and even sing! Now, let's get to George Cohan, who's "A good friend of my Uncle Sam" and was "Born on the Fourth of July". Because of this, Cohan was immensely patriotic and wrote many flag waving tunes. Many of you are still stumped about his name, but you would probably know his songs if you heard them: "Mary", "Give My Regards to Broadway", "Harrigan", "45 Minutes from Broadway", "Over There" and, of course, "Yankee Doodle Dandy". The music numbers, since they are stage productions, lack the Hollywoodized touch that's in "Singin' in the Rain". Nevertheless, they are still exciting enough. A great supporting cast assists Cagney, including Walter Huston, Joan Leslie, Richard Whorf, Irene Manning, George Tobias, Rosemary De Camp, Eddie Foy Jr. and Jeanne Cagney (His own sister!). The film's direction was helmed by Michael Curtiz, responsible for such classics as "Casablanca", "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and Cagney in "Angels With Dirty Faces". Curtiz puts into the movie his traditional blend of thrills and fast pace. The screenplay is full of memorable scenes and dialogue, particularly "My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you and I thank you". About the only problems with it are moments of melodrama and how it might trivialize some of the events in Cohan's life. I also did not like how the script skips in telling us how Cohan's mother and sister died. But, with all the virtues of the movie, these problems are minor. It also shows to never learn your history from movies. The version I watched "Yankee Doodle Dandy" on was the controversial colorized edition created in the late 1980's, one of several movies that received such treatment. The movie doesn't look too bad in color. It's one of a very few movies that can be switched between either version. Nevertheless, if Ted Turner really wanted to see a black and white movie in color, he should have made a remake. Either that or he should have had the cooperation of someone who was involved in the making of the movie. Don't tamper with someone else's work unless you have their discrete! So, if you happen to see this available for rent or sale at your local video store, don't hesitate (Unless it's in color, that is). Unlike many movies today, this is one you can watch problem free with the whole family. On a sadder note, Cagney passed away on this day in 1986. Although there have probably been many tributes in the years since, watching "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and his other films is the only real way to honor him."
It's A Grand Old Movie
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 10/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is one of the great feel good movies of all time. The movie tells the story of the life of George M. Cohan as told by Cohan himself to Franklin Roosevelt. Though he is proud of himself and his accomplishments, we see in Cohan someone who had great success but also learned from his bumps, bruises, and mistakes. It is a Hollywood extravaganza. There are song and dance numbers, a large all star cast, and it is pure pleasure all the way. The factor that makes the film so special is James Cagney in the role of Cohan. Perhaps because he plays the bad guy so often, we are surprised to see him singing and dancing as a nice guy. Many believe that this role was his best and shows his versatility as an actor. I could not agree more.The movie has historic value. It was released in the early years of World War II, at a time when Americans were confident but unsure as to what would happen in the war. Movies such as YANKEE DOODLE DANDY stirred patriotism at such a critical moment in our history. This becomes especially clear when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from Roosevelt at the end of the film.The two disc special addition has an added bonus of a disc about Cagney's life hosted by Michael J. Fox-an added bonus for old movie buffs."