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Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

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



(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »

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From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Won 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Whorf ...
Rosemary DeCamp ...
Singer - Nora
Minor Watson ...


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 June 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Triunfo supremo  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Despite failing health, the real George M. Cohan acted briefly as a consultant on the film. He lived long enough to see the finished result and approved wholeheartedly of James Cagney's depiction of himself. See more »


There are no mountains visible from Providence, RI, despite what is shown in the opening scene. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in Yankee Doodle Daffy (1943) See more »


Jeepers Creepers
(1938) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Sung a cappella and danced at George's farm by Dick Chandlee, Joyce Horne, Joyce Reynolds and Charles Smith
See more »

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User Reviews

Red White and Blue, Cagney for You
29 May 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

James Cagney won his only Oscar for his recreation of George M. Cohgan in Yankee Doodle Dandy. Already terminally ill, Cohan lived long enough to see the film and no doubt he would have approved of it because it sure is how he would like to have been remembered.

In 1942 when Yankee Doodle Dandy premiered there was a whole generations of people left alive who saw George M. Cohan perform. Watching the film today Cohan is like a figure from antiquity. But Warner Brothers was lucky to have James Cagney with the studio who's dancing style closely paralleled Cohan's. If it is ever run on Turner Classic Movies, make sure you see George M. Cohan's sound film The Phantom President. You will be astonished to see how closely Cagney captured his style. In the same way that Philip Seymour Hoffman captured Truman Capote and Joaquin Phoenix became Johnny Cash.

Cohan's contemporaries are also like names from antiquity. But a century ago when Cohan was just hitting the big time performers like Fay Templeton, Nora Bayes, and Eddie Foy were very big stars and in 1942 plenty of people saw them also. I wish we had some film of them to see how Irene Manning, Frances Langford, and Eddie Foy, Jr. did in their recreations. I'm sure Foy, Jr. did a smashing job with his Dad.

The background stuff is true enough. Cohan was born to a pair of vaudeville performers Jerry and Nellie Cohan played here by Walter Huston and Rosemary DeCamp. Later on a sister was added to the Cohan family and here Josie Cohan is played by Jeanne Cagney. They did do all the towns, big and small, in America. Cagney meets wife Joan Leslie at Shea's Theater in Buffalo, New York and Shea's survives to this day. And his first real success was Little Johnny Jones which score included American classics, Yankee Doodle Dandy and Give My Regards to Broadway.

What's left out is the fact Cohan had two wives. His second wife survived him and died in the early Seventies. As his songs became popular in patriotic/rightwing circles, Cohan's personal politics reflected that. He fought hard and lost in the battle for Actors Equity. Cohan thought a union of players was tantamount to Communism. But such was his standing among performers that Cohan was granted the unique privilege of being allowed to appear on stage without having to join Equity once the union was recognized as the bargaining agent for players.

Cohan is shown in Yankee Doodle Dandy as gracefully having retired when other trends in popular music took over. Far from it, he was a very bitter man and when he did that final comeback in I'd Rather Be Right he fought with Kaufman and Hart over the book and Rodgers and Hart over the songs.

But Yankee Doodle Dandy presents the public musical face of George M. Cohan and does it very well. To this day, some forty years after first seeing Yankee Doodle Dandy on television, I love the recreations of Yankee Doodle Dandy, Give My Regards to Broadway, and You're a Grand Old Flag as they were first seen on stage. Plus some of the snatches of the lesser known Cohan songs as performed by the players portraying the Cohan family and others.

When all is said and done, George M. Cohan was a great force of nature in the American musical theater. And we thank his father, mother, and sister, and George M. himself for what he left us.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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