"Classic Celebration of a Patriotic Showman"
What You Need To Know:
YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is a celebration of American patriotism and family. Cagney is wonderful as the patriotic song and dance man. He shows there was more to him than just playing the tough guy or gangsters. There aren’t many objectionable elements in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY. In one scene, white performers appear onstage in blackface. This may offend viewers who mistakenly apply today’s standards to people living in bygone eras. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is an American classic.
YANKEE DOODLE DANDY stars James Cagney in one of his signature roles as George M. Cohan, the patriotic musical playwright of the first half of the 20th Century. George loved America and his family, a beloved group of performers known as the Four Cohans.
YANKEE DOODLE DANDY opens with a middle-aged George after a performance. Shortly after the show, George gets summoned to Washington D.C for an unknown reason. Upon his arrival, he meets the President of the country, and the two start up a conversation that leads to George’s life story.
George recalls being born on the Fourth of July to two actors. His parents strategically pick his name to honor George Washington, but also assure that it will look great on a billboard should he follow in their footsteps. Their dream comes true. As a family of four, including the addition of George’s younger sister, they travel as a family and perform. After awhile, George starts becoming arrogant with fame and ends up costing his family a great opportunity to perform in Philadelphia.
The story jumps to George as a young adult. He’s still performing with his family. George meets Mary, an 18-year-old aspiring performer, and the two become close friends as they perform. Still, George tries to take things up a notch and get noticed by talent agents and theater operators in New York. After some pushback, George finagles his way into a meeting with a playwright named Sam Harris and the two form a partnership that will take George to the next level. They create LITTLE JOHNNY JONES in 1904, the Broadway musical hit about an American jockey who gets falsely accused of throwing a race. The play introduces the songs “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.”
The success of the musical allows the Cohan family to perform again as a group, taking LITTLE JOHNNY JONES and Yankee Doodle Dandy around the country on tour. During this time, George and Sam Harris meet with Fay Templeton, an acclaimed stage actress and singer. George gives Fay a song he promised to let Mary introduce. When George tells Mary, she responds with kindness, and the two end up getting married.
After George’s success, his parents retire to a quiet life on a farm. Also, George’s sister announces her engagement. Now, George must find his way in show business without his family. To add to all this, World War I begins and begs the service of thousands of men including George, who’s determined to use his showmanship to bring cheer to the troops. However, how will George adapt to all of life’s changes?
YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is a stirring, endearing celebration of American patriotism and family. A fair amount of American history weaves its way through the storyline. The music displays the patriotism of the year it was released, 1942. Cagney is absolutely wonderful as the patriotic song and dance man. He shows there was a lot more to him than just playing the tough guy or gangsters. Cagney’s dancing is different than anyone else’s, but in a good way. If you want to see more of it, catch his performance as a Broadway producer in the classic 1933 movie FOOTLIGHT PARADE.
There aren’t many objectionable elements in YANKEE DOODLE DANDY. In one scene, white performers appear onstage in blackface. This may offend viewers who mistakenly apply today’s standards to people living in bygone eras. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY is an American classic.