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Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, Musical | 6 June 1942 (USA)
A film of the life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer, and singer George M. Cohan.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Richard Whorf ...
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Rosemary DeCamp ...
Jeanne Cagney ...
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Singer - Nora
George Barbier ...
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Douglas Croft ...
Eddie Foy Jr. ...
Minor Watson ...
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Storyline

A musical portrait of composer/singer/dancer George M. Cohan. From his early days as a child-star in his family's vaudeville show up to the time of his comeback at which he received a medal from the president for his special contributions to the US, this is the life- story of George M. Cohan, who produced, directed, wrote and starred in his own musical shows for which he composed his famous songs. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

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Taglines:

The Yankee Doodle Dandiest Entertainment of 'em all! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

6 June 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Triunfo supremo  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on October 19, 1942 with James Cagney reprising his film role. See more »

Goofs

Near the beginning of the movie, George M. Cohan is describing his birth (in 1878) to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and speaks of the flag "having fewer stars then, but people knew more were coming". The camera fades to a scene of an American flag waving on a flagpole, before panning down to people at a 4th of July parade waving hand held flags. The hand held flags appear to be the correct 38 star flags of 1878, but the flag on the pole is the 45 star flag introduced in 1896. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Critic #1: I call it a hit. What'll your review say?
Critic #2: I like it too, so I guess I'll pan it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Love's Labour's Lost (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Nellie Kelly, I Love You
(1922) (uncredited)
from the Broadway show "Little Nellie Kelly"
Written by George M. Cohan
Sung by Frances Langford as part of the post-WWI medley
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Flag-Waving Nostalgia at its Best!
29 September 2003 | by (Las Vegas, Nevada) – See all my reviews

YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, the classic WB wartime musical, has delighted three generations of audiences with its unabashed patriotism, rousing songs, and, most of all, with the unmatched energy and talent of its Academy Award-winning star, James Cagney. The film was blessed with an impressive supporting cast, fabulous production values, and the perfect timing that graced several of the WB's biggest WWII hits.

The subject of the film, George M. Cohan, was certainly a Broadway legend by the 1930s, having produced, directed, written and starred in a considerable array of successes for over 30 years. Son of vaudevillian parents, born on July 3, 1878 (always a genius of self-promotion, he gave the birthdate as July 4th, to enhance his 'Yankee Doodle' persona), he, and younger sister Josie, joined the parents to become the 'Four Cohans', and were a popular comedy/music act traveling the theater circuits of the late nineteenth century. Managing the family act by age 15 (his father concentrated on material, his mother had no head for business), Cohan throughout his life was prone to childish fits of temper, and was described by contemporaries as brash, headstrong...and undeniably gifted. From his first Broadway success (1904's 'Little Johnny Jones'), he had been determined to leave a legacy that would not be forgotten, and by 60, with his health beginning to decline, he concluded a film biography was the surest way to achieve immortality.

He first approached Sam Goldwyn, a personal friend, to do the picture, but demanded creative control, and when his choice to play himself, Fred Astaire, turned down the role, Cohan backed out of the project. Jack Warner, however, had once 'done a turn' in vaudeville, and one of the lot's biggest stars, James Cagney, was looking for a patriotic role to offset the recent bad publicity he'd received (the liberal star had been accused of being a Communist, which he was cleared of). Warner was more than happy to take on the biography, and after viewing earlier Cagney musicals, Cohan agreed with the selection of leading man (Cagney had actually auditioned, once, for a Cohan play...and was rejected!)

Cohan's colorful life had to be toned down, somewhat, for the screen (he had been married twice, and 'wholesome family films' did NOT portray divorce), so an amalgamation of both wives was created by screenwriter Robert Buckner, and named Mary (to capitalize on one of Cohan's most popular tunes). While the showman fretted that current wife Agnes might be offended, the second Mrs. Cohan was actually pleased (her middle name was Mary, she had started in the chorus line, and so she assumed the character Joan Leslie played WAS her!)

Finally (after the Epstein brothers were called in to add their legendary comic touches to the screenplay), filming began...on December 8, 1941. Cast and crew listened to President Roosevelt's radio address about Pearl Harbor, Cagney led everyone in a prayer, and an unspoken goal was set, to make YANKEE DOODLE DANDY the most patriotic, inspiring film possible. Director Michael Curtiz, one of the WB's finest directors, channeled the fervor, and Cagney jumped into the role of Cohan, heart and soul.

YANKEE DOODLE DANDY exceeded everyone's expectations. For a nation still reeling from Pearl Harbor and the Japanese advances in the Pacific, as well as Hitler's stranglehold of Europe, flag-waving was just the right medicine! The film was a huge hit, and was gratifying to Cohan (it is said that the day he died, November 5, 1942, he took a last stroll on Broadway, then joined the long line waiting to see his film biography, and watched James Cagney's unforgettable performance).

While it is true that the film is a bit dated, it is still a grand entertainment, and is on the AFI's list of the '100 Greatest Films of the Twentieth Century'.

George M. Cohan HAS achieved his immortality!


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