AFI No. 98: Yankee Doodle Dandy

I’ll be honest, I just wanted to get through Yankee Doodle Dandy, No. 98 on the AFI top 100 list. I glanced at a description of it, saw that it was a musical and not much more. Add that to the fact it was filmed in 1942, well I just was not expecting much out of this film.

I soon realized I was completely wrong about this film. First of all, it wasn’t a stereotypical, randomly breakout in song-and-dance musical. It was actually a biography about George M. Cohan, “Mr. Broadway” himself.

Similar to Citizen Kane, it looks back at the life of a prominent figure. George M. Cohan tells the story beginning with his humble beginnings in a traveling vaudeville family. His drive to succeed and confidence that he will, is apparent at a young age. In fact, his cockiness gets him in trouble several times and curbs the success of his family as producers do not want to take a risk with young George. He finally partners with the talented, yet quiet Sam Harris and the two take over Broadway.

I had no idea famous songs such as “Grand Old Flag” and “Over There” came from Broadway shows. America needed songs like those during that time, needs those songs today. When George was unable to register for the Army because he was too old, the sergeant remarked “You can do more here than over there.” It was true, he made a true impact in his inspiration music.

The song and dance was fun, and not thrown in just out of no where. My favorite part of the movie was the flawed character of George M. Cohan. He was cocky, arrogant but he loved his family more than anything. The tap dance down the steps of the White House was a terrific touch, which according to IMDB and Wikipedia, was ad-libbed by James Cagnay. It was a wonderful story of success. TC and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next Up: No. 97 Blade Runner


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