"Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1942)
Ever wanted to see a patriotic film? Although Yankee Doodle Dandy is a biographical musical film, it oozes of Americana. The lyrics and music by the legendary George M. Cohan is the star of this film. Hit songs such as "The Yankee Doodle Boy" (aka Yankee Doodle Dandy), "Over Here", "Give my regards to Broadway", and "You're a Grand Ole Flag" just make you feel like a proud American. At least watching James Cagney's performance and learning about the life and times of George M. Cohan did. Watching this film for me is an epic experience-you laugh, you cry, you jump for joy, and you are always moved.
My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you.
Cagney who plays the part of Cohan in the film, travels and performs with his parents; his mother, father, and sister called the Four Cohans. At the end of every vaudeville performance Cohan would say his trademark curtain-call speech, "My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you". Every time I heard it in the film it just moved me. Such simple words but so filled with gratitude for the audience and their interest in their act. Without interest one cannot be a success in show business and that's a fact!
The film follows the Cohan family from their humble beginnings to becoming a major vaudeville act to Cohan himself following his own musical dreams.
"Yankee Doodle Dandy" film trailer
Cagney's performance was outstanding and he won an Oscar that year and rightly so. George M. Cohan was on hand to serve as a consultant for the film but due to his poor health he wasn't able to be as helpful as he originally hoped he would be. He was able to see the film before he passed away from cancer in 1942 at the age of sixty-four. He did approve of the film and of Cagney's performance as well (how neat is that!) He was the last remaining member of the Four Cohans and they now all rest in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York.
Cagney performing "Yankee Doodle Dandy"
If you want to see Cagney as a song and dance man, learn about a great artist such as George M. Cohan, or simply connect with your patriotism, this is the film for you. Cagney just shines on the screen and this is my favorite of Cagney's films, simply because he is able to showcase many of his diverse talents and also because he told the story of this great artistic with pride and great respect.