I knew when I started this blog that I would probably have preconceived notions about many of the movies, and to be quite honest, I was very hesitant about this movie for many reasons. One, it was very old, and I did not think that I would be able to relate to it. Two, it was a black and white musical about the life of a man that I never knew existed. How was I ever going to find something to relate to and write about? However, I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong in my assumptions and to be able to reaffirm my own belief that people can relate to movies no matter how different they may seem.
Yankee Doodle Dandy is a musical based on the life of George M Cohan played by James Cagrey. Who is George M Cohan? Like many of you, I had no idea either. Cohan was an entertainer, playwrite, actor, dancer, singer, producer...basically anything you could be in the entertainment world in the late 1800s and into the early 1900's. Ever heard the song "Give my Regards to Broadway"? He wrote that. "Yankee Doodle Boy" and "Your a Grand Old Flag" and the war time favorite "Over There"? He wrote those too. He was also honored with a Congressional Gold Medal for his service during WWI. But he didn't actually serve in the military, it was for his contribution to the morale of the country with his music and productions.
Cohan, as played by James Cagrey, was a character. The dialogue was just so natural and fluid especially when it came to comedic timing. One situation that stuck out in my mind was when a young Cohan, still dressed in full make up and costume as an old man, begins to flirt with a young actress in the dressing room. She believes him to be an old man, while he is just himself. Another moment was between Cohan and his wife. He had written a song for her to sing, but ended up giving it away to a more famous actress. When he comes home he comes bearing a huge bouquet of flowers, ready to apologize. After buttering his wife up, Cohan tells her he gave away her part to which his wife replies, "I knew that dear, as soon as you walked in the door carrying candy and flowers."
In many ways, a description of the comedy in Yankee Doodle Dandy would not do the movie justice. It needs to be seen and felt. Not only does James Cagrey portray Cohan as a fun loving jokester, but manages to capture the importance of patriotism and the role his country played in his life. It is not hard to see that George Cohan was a patriot. Besides the coincidence of being born on the Fourth of July, all one needs to do is look to his music and productions. One of the most powerful moments of the movie for me was something that Cohan said. "It seems it always happens. Whenever we get too high-hat and too sophisticated for flag-waving, some thug nation decides we're a push-over all ready to be blackjacked. And it isn't long before we're looking up, mighty anxiously, to be sure the flag's still waving over us." I really related to this quote. It reminded me of September 11th. The United States hadn't been attacked on our own soil in over 50 years, and we were hit at the heart of one of our major cities. Before that moment I do believe that many people felt we as a nation were untouchable, and that something like that could never happen. Patriotism after that day changed forever. I don't think you could pass by a house, store or building for that matter that didn't have an American flag waving outside of it. It took a moment like that for Americans to truly appreciate what the American flag means and the sacrifice so many people have given in order to protect it.
This movie turned out to be much more than I expected. It had comedy, music and dancing, but also had a strong theme of patriotism and duty that I really enjoyed. I would really recommend anyone who appreciates comedies and would like to see what a comedy was like over 70 years ago to see this movie. You will not regret it.