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This documentary is included with the DVD for "Yankee Doodle Dandy"--a
The film begins with an overview of the career of George M. Cohan--the subject of the film. This stage performer, according to the documentary, was quite a bit like Cagney's persona in the film--brash, obnoxious as a young actor and a bit childish. Then, an explanation of the things leading up to the creation of the film were the subject of the film--which made up the bulk of the documentary. Why Cagney chose to make such a film was an interesting tidbit. What I found most interesting, however, is how the film talked about how "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was NOT like the real life of Cohan--some interesting stuff here and little gems for film historians. Overall, it's a wonderful "making of" film--full of wonderful insights and it engenders a lot of interest and appreciation for the original movie.
Interestingly, the DVD also has a biographical retrospective of Cagney and his film career. It seemed very sketchy and lacked the in-depth detail of "Let Freedom Sing!". If you have to watch only one, see "Let Freedom Sing!".
By the way, you may notice John McCabe being interviewed at various points and wonder who he is. McCabe was a writer and film historian who wrote excellent books on Laurel & Hardy as well as other actors. He died shortly after appearing in this film.
Let Freedom Sing! The Story of Yankee Doodle Dandy (2003)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Nice 30+ minute documentary about the history and making of YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, the classic film that got James Cagney his only Best Actor Oscar. The film tells the story of George M. Cohan and we start off hearing about his life and how he got into the business. From here we learn that he was worried about his legacy and felt that a movie about his life would be the best thing for it and at the same time Cagney was needing to help is image over a controversy so the two sides came together. Film historians Robert Osborne, Rudy Behlmer and Bob Thomas are joined by the likes of John Travolta, John McCabe, Joan Leslie, Patrick McGilligan and Joel Grey as they discuss the film and its legacy. Fans of the film are really going to enjoy hearing the stories about the production including all the power that Warner actually gave Cohan, which included him having to give his approval for the final product. I am curious to know what would have happened had Cohan not approved the film. Other stories told includes a heartbreaking one from Leslie as she talks about the day on the set when they learned that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Overall, this is a very impressive feature as it really gives you a clear idea of everything in the production from the hiring of the cast to the photography and of course it's release.
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