1 Year, 100 Movies: #98 Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

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For 1 Year, 100 Movies, I will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year- and will complete a goal on my 2013 Manifesto. Come along on the ride with me- oh, and please pass the popcorn!

Yankee Doodle Dandy is the biographical musical film of the actor/singer/songwriter/playwright, dancer/producer George M. Cohan- known as “The man Who Owns Broadway”. The movie starts toward the end of Cohan’s career, with him chatting in the White House with president Roosevelt- he tells him about his entire career, and the scenes in the White House bookend the movie.

Cohan started out with his family in a vaudeville act- known as The Four Cohans- as soon as he could walk and talk with his mother and father and his sister Josie. He began writing his own skits and made it to Broadway, where he had his family join him. Cohan wrote hundreds of songs including, “Give my Regards to Broadway,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, “Forty-Five Minutes from Braodway”, “Over There” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy” aka “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. Cohan created and produced over fifty musicals from 1904 to 1920.

Cohan himself was a consultant for this film, although due to his health he had a limited involvement. He did see the film before he died and approved of Cagney’s portrayal. Cohan is one of the most honored American entertainers- the movie is based around President Roosevelt presenting Cohan with the Congressional Gold Medal for his contributions to World War I morale, in particular for the songs “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “Over There”. In 1959 a statue of his likeness was dedicated in Times Square at Broadway and 46th Street in Manhattan. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970, into the American Folklore Hall of Fame in 2003 and into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

My favorite scene after all the the song and dance- which is great- is when Cohan tap dances his way down the stairs of the White House after meeting with President Roosevelt. This film is a wonderful depiction of Cohan’s contributions to the entertainment business in America and also to his long and very interesting career that I previously knew nothing about.

In my humble, non-professional, average movie-goer opinion this movie earns:

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