Yankee Doodle Dandy

Yankee Doodle Dandy

5.0 5
Director: Michael Curtiz, Hugh MacMullan

Cast: James Cagney, Joan Leslie


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Yankee Doodle Dandy is no more the true-life story of George M. Cohan than The Jolson Story was the unvarnished truth about Al Jolson -- but who the heck cares? Dandy has song, dance, pathos, pageantry, uproarious comedy, and, best of all, James Cagney at his Oscar-winning best. After several failed attempts to bring the life of legendary,


Yankee Doodle Dandy is no more the true-life story of George M. Cohan than The Jolson Story was the unvarnished truth about Al Jolson -- but who the heck cares? Dandy has song, dance, pathos, pageantry, uproarious comedy, and, best of all, James Cagney at his Oscar-winning best. After several failed attempts to bring the life of legendary, flag-waving song-and-dance man Cohan to the screen, Warners scenarist Robert Buckner opted for the anecdotal approach, unifying the film's largely unrelated episodes with a flashback framework. Summoned to the White House by President Roosevelt, the aging Cohan is encouraged to relate the events leading up to this momentous occasion. He recalls his birth on the Fourth of July, 1878; his early years as a cocky child performer in his family's vaudeville act; his decision to go out as a "single"; his sealed-with-a-handshake partnership with writer/producer Sam Harris (Richard Whorf); his first Broadway success, 1903's Little Johnny Jones; his blissful marriage to winsome wife Mary (a fictional amalgam of Cohan's two wives, played by Joan Leslie -- who, incredibly, was only 17 at the time); his patriotic civilian activities during World War I, culminating with his writing of that conflict's unofficial anthem "Over There" (performed by Nora Bayes, as played by Frances Langford); the deaths of his sister, Josie (played by Cagney's real-life sister Jeanne), his mother, Nellie (Rosemary DeCamp), and his father, Jerry (Walter Huston); his abortive attempt to retire; and his triumphant return to Broadway in Rodgers & Hart's I'd Rather Be Right. His story told, Cohan is surprised -- and profoundly moved -- when FDR presents him with the Congressional Medal of Honor, the first such honor bestowed upon an entertainer. His eyes welling up with tears, Cohan expresses his gratitude by invoking his old vaudeville curtain speech: "My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you, and I thank you." Glossing over such unsavory moments in Cohan's life as his bitter opposition of the formation of Actor's Equity -- not to mention George M.'s intense hatred of FDR! -- Yankee Doodle Dandy offers the George M. Cohan that people in 1942 wanted to see (proof of the pudding was the film's five-million-dollar gross). And besides, the plot and its fabrications were secondary to those marvelous Cohan melodies -- "Give My Regards to Broadway," "Harrigan," "Mary," "You're a Grand Old Flag," "45 Minutes from Broadway," and the title tune -- performed with brio by Cagney (who modifies his own loose-limbed dancing style in order to imitate Cohan's inimitable stiff-legged technique) and the rest of the spirited cast. Beyond its leading players, movie buffs will have a ball spotting the myriad of familiar character actors parading before the screen: S.Z. Sakall, George Tobias, Walter Catlett, George Barbier, Eddie Foy Jr. (playing his own father), Frank Faylen, Minor Watson, Tom Dugan, John Hamilton, and on and on and on. In addition to Cagney, music directors Ray Heindorf and Heinz Roemheld also won Oscars for their efforts.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Karen Backstein
The most patriotic, red-white-and-blue musical ever made, Yankee Doodle Dandy celebrates a true American original, composer and entertainer George M. Cohan, and features one of James Cagney's best-ever performances. Made just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, as nationalism was running high, this flag-waving biography of Cohan’s life has a warmly nostalgic feel. Told in flashbacks as Cohan prepares for an upcoming visit to the White House to receive the Medal of Honor, the story hearkens back to simpler, happier times. We see Cohan’s childhood beginnings in a family vaudeville act, his glory days of fame on Broadway, his comeback, and his romances. In the lead role, former song-and-dance man Cagney brings a uniquely dynamic presence to the screen. Never was there a more perfect match between actor and part -- Cagney even imitated Cohan’s stiff-bodied, Irish style of hoofing to a tee -- and he took home an Oscar for his performance. Especially memorable are the soundtrack’s many songs: Cohan wrote more than 1,000, and the favorites here include "Give My Regards to Broadway," "Over There," "You’re a Grand Old Flag," and "Harrigan," in addition to the title tune, of course. Joyful, fast-moving, and entertaining, Yankee Doodle Dandy is the perfect movie to brighten even the darkest day.
All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Yankee Doodle Dandy was one of the best World War II-era patriotic propaganda films, and it has proven itself enduringly popular in the decades following its release. The film succeeds almost entirely on the performance of James Cagney as legendary song-and-dance performer George M. Cohan, although significant credit should also be given to director Michael Curtiz, who expertly stages each scene to display the talents of his star. The film features an over-the-top framing device in which Cohan tells his life's story in flashback to President Franklin Roosevelt. The story is effectively fiction, using only the outline of Cohan's life and some of his songs as reference points. The musical sequences are among the best in any film of the era. The film was nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won three, including Best Actor for Cagney. The real-life Cohan died shortly after the film's release, living long enough to see it and like it despite, or perhaps because of, its lack of accuracy about his life.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Turner Home Ent

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Cagney George M. Cohan
Joan Leslie Mary Cohan
Walter Huston Jerry Cohan
Richard Whorf Sam Harris
Irene Manning Fay Templeton
Jeanne Cagney Josie Cohan
George Tobias Dietz
Rosemary de Camp Nellie Cohan
Frances Langford Nora Bayes
George Barbier Erlanger
S.Z. Sakall Schwab
Walter Catlett Manager
Douglas Croft George M. Cohan, Age 13
Eddie Foy Eddie Foy
Minor Watson Ed Albee
Chester Clute Harold Goff
Odette Myrtil Mme. Bartholdi
Patsy Lee Parsons Josie Cohan, age 12
Vivian Austin Pianist
Wallis Clark Theodore Roosevelt
Michael Curtiz Actor
Mari Jo James Sister Act
Jack Young The President
Eddie Acuff Reporter
Murray Alper Wise Guy
Leon Belasco Magician
Henry Blair George M. Cohari, Age 7
Walter Brooke Reporter
Leslie Brooks Chorus Girls in "Little Johnny Jones" Number
Georgia Carroll Betsy Ross
Dick Chandlee Teenager
Spencer Charters Stage Manager
William B. Davidson New York Stage Manager
Ann Doran Receptionist
Tom Dugan Actor at Railway Station
Frank Faylen Sergeant
Pat Flaherty White House guard
James Flavin Union Army Veteran
Creighton Hale Telegraph operator
John Hamilton Recruiting officer
Harry Hayden Dr. Lewellyn
William Hopper Reporter
Joyce Horne Teenager
Thomas E. Jackson Stage manager
Edward Keane Critic
Dorothy Kelly Sister act
Fred Kelsey Irish Cop in "Peck's Bad Boy"
Phyllis Kennedy Fanny
Audrey Long Receptionist
Jo Ann Marlowe Josie Cohan, age 6
Frank Mayo Hotel clerk
George Meeker Hotel Clerk
Dolores Moran Girl
Lee Murray Jockey
Garry Owen Army clerk
Francis Pierlot Dr. Anderson
Joyce Reynolds Teenager
Ruth Robinson Nurse
Clinton Rosemond White House butler
Charles B. Smith Teenager
Sailor Vincent Schultz in "Peck's Bad Boy"
Dick Wessel Union Army veteran
Poppy Wilde Chorus girl "Little Johnny Jones"
Joan Winfield Sally
Bill Edwards Reporter
William Forrest 1st critic
Sid Saylor Star Boarder
Lon McCallister Actor

Technical Credits
Michael Curtiz Director
Hugh MacMullan Director
George J. Amy Editor
Milo Anderson Costumes/Costume Designer
John Boyle Choreography
Robert Buckner Screenwriter
William Cagney Associate Producer
George M. Cohan Score Composer
William Collier Consultant/advisor
Seymour Felix Choreography
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
James Wong Howe Cinematographer
Edmund Joseph Screenwriter
LeRoy J. Prinz Choreography
Heinz Roemheld Score Composer
Hal B. Wallis Producer
Jack L. Warner Producer
Perc Westmore Makeup
Carl Jules Weyl Art Director


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Yankee Doodle Dandy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
cagney was the greatest american male film actor. cagney could make a poor movie good. this movie is a classic and cagneys at his best.buy it keep it enjoy.youll watch it from time to time.its truly and amazing performance by the ever dynamic cagney.
Guest More than 1 year ago
James Cagney is by far one of best movie actors of all time. He is amazing in Yankee Doodle Dandy and I just love the way he dances. No actor by far has ever come close to what he does on film. Brilliant.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Im 15 years old i was hesitant when i bought it cause i wasnt sure what i was gonna see on it , wow when i saw this i couldnt stop watching it. I watched it 2 times yestersday and once today maybe again later. A CLASSIC!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Call me old fashioned, but this movie is a must see for me every 4th of July. I am tired of watching it on TV with all the commercials, so I have finally decided to purchase the dvd. Another great movie from the good old days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago