YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942)

Dir. Michael Curtiz

That Hollywood would film the life story of legendary song-and-dance man George M. Cohan was a no-brainer; that they would do it so well continues to be a blessing. Even though Cohan balked about some of the alterations to his life story, he was all smiles when the studio followed his recommendation and cast James Cagney in the title role. As Cohan, Cagney struts across the screen with the same energy he had brought to his star-making turns as gangsters a decade earlier. He got the chance to draw on his background as a dancer, studying films of Cohan to copy his signature tapping style. At the time, Cagney was trying to prove he could play more than gangster roles. In addition, having just had his union activism investigated by Congress, he was eager to prove his patriotism. The film brought him an Oscar to boot, while providing memorable roles for his sister Jeanne, Walter Huston, Joan Leslie and Rosemary DeCamp, who played Cagney's mother despite being 11 years younger than he.

In attendance: Malcolm McDowell.

YANKEE DOODLE DANDY
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