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Yankee Doodle Dandy Details


Yankee Doodle Dandy is no more the true-life story of [[Performer~P13943~George M. Cohan~georgemcohan]] than [[Feature~V26481~The Jolson Story~thejolsonstory]] was the unvarnished truth about Al Jolson -- but who the heck cares? Dandy has song, dance, pathos, pageantry, uproarious comedy, and, best of all, [[Performer~P10165~James Cagney~jamescagney]] at his Oscar-winning best. After several failed attempts to bring the life of legendary, flag-waving song-and-dance man [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]] to the screen, Warners scenarist [[Performer~P83436~Robert Buckner~robertbuckner]] opted for the anecdotal approach, unifying the film's largely unrelated episodes with a flashback framework. Summoned to the White House by [[Performer~P61391~President Roosevelt~franklindroosevelt]], the aging [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]] 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 ([[Performer~P116676~Richard Whorf~richardwhorf]]); his first Broadway success, 1903's Little Johnny Jones; his blissful marriage to winsome wife Mary (a fictional amalgam of [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]]'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 [[Performer~P40467~Frances Langford~franceslangford]]); the deaths of his sister, Josie (played by [[Performer~P10165~Cagney~jamescagney]]'s real-life sister [[Performer~P10167~Jeanne~jeannecagney]]), his mother, Nellie (Rosemary DeCamp), and his father, Jerry ([[Performer~P34142~Walter Huston~walterhuston]]); his abortive attempt to retire; and his triumphant return to Broadway in [[Performer~P108625~Rodgers & Hart~rodgershart]]'s I'd Rather Be Right. His story told, [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]] 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, [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]] 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 [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]]'s life as his bitter opposition of the formation of Actor's Equity -- not to mention [[Performer~P13943~George M.~georgemcohan]]'s intense hatred of FDR! -- Yankee Doodle Dandy offers the [[Performer~P13943~George M. Cohan~georgemcohan]] 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 [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]] 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 [[Performer~P10165~Cagney~jamescagney]] (who modifies his own loose-limbed dancing style in order to imitate [[Performer~P13943~Cohan~georgemcohan]]'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: [[Performer~P62678~S.Z. Sakall~szsakall]], [[Performer~P71126~George Tobias~georgetobias]], [[Performer~P11810~Walter Catlett~waltercatlett]], [[Performer~P3844~George Barbier~georgebarbier]], [[Performer~P24615~Eddie Foy Jr.~eddiefoyjr]] (playing his own father), [[Performer~P22908~Frank Faylen~frankfaylen]], [[Performer~P75012~Minor Watson~minorwatson]], Tom Dugan, John Hamilton, and on and on and on. In addition to [[Performer~P10165~Cagney~jamescagney]], music directors Ray Heindorf and [[Performer~P108679~Heinz Roemheld~heinzroemheld]] also won Oscars for their efforts. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:June 6, 1942


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nathan Levinson Best Sound 1942 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Heinz Roemheld Best Score - Musical 1942 Winner
National Board of Review James Cagney Best Acting 1942 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences James Cagney Best Actor 1942 Winner
New York Film Critics Circle James Cagney Best Actor 1942 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Michael Curtiz Best Director 1942 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Robert Buckner Best Original Story 1942 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Ray Heindorf Best Score - Musical 1942 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Walter Huston Best Supporting Actor 1942 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences George J. Amy Best Editing 1942 Nominee


James Cagney
as George M. Cohan
Joan Leslie
as Mary Cohan
Walter Huston
as Jerry Cohan
Richard Whorf
as Sam Harris
Jeanne Cagney
as Josie Cohan
George Tobias
as Dietz
Rosemary de Camp
as Nellie Cohan
Frances Langford
as Nora Bayes
George Barbier
as Erlanger
S.Z. Sakall
as Schwab
Walter Catlett
as Manager
Douglas Croft
as George M. Cohan, Age 13
Eddie Foy, Jr.
as Eddie Foy
Minor Watson
as Ed Albee
Chester Clute
as Harold Goff
Odette Myrtil
as Mme. Bartholdi
Pat Flaherty
as White House guard
Phyllis Kennedy
as Fanny
Poppy Wilde
as Chorus girl "Little Johnny Jones"
Sid Saylor
as Star Boarder
Wallis Clark
as Theodore Roosevelt
Ann Doran
as Receptionist
Harry Hayden
as Dr. Lewellyn
James Flavin
as Union Army Veteran
Joan Winfield
as Sally
Joyce Reynolds
as Teenager
Lee Murray
as Jockey
Murray Alper
as Wise Guy
Creighton Hale
as Telegraph operator
Eddie Acuff
as Reporter
Frank Faylen
as Sergeant
Leon Belasco
as Magician
Spencer Charters
as Stage Manager
Frank Mayo
as Hotel clerk
Walter Brooke
as Reporter
Audrey Long
as Receptionist
William Forrest
as 1st critic
John Hamilton
as Recruiting officer
William Hopper
as Reporter
Garry Owen
as Army clerk
Ruth Robinson
as Nurse
Tom Dugan
as Actor at Railway Station
Edward Keane
as Critic
Francis Pierlot
as Dr. Anderson
Fred Kelsey
as Irish Cop in "Peck's Bad Boy"
George Meeker
as Hotel Clerk
Charles B. Smith
as Teenager
William B. Davidson
as New York Stage Manager
Clinton Rosemond
as White House butler
Dick Wessel
as Union Army veteran
Dolores Moran
as Girl
Georgia Carroll
as Betsy Ross


Michael Curtiz
Jack L. Warner
Hal B. Wallis
Robert Buckner
Edmund Joseph
James Wong Howe
Leo F. Forbstein
Musical Direction/Supervision
Heinz Roemheld
Composer (Music Score)
George J. Amy
William Cagney
Associate Producer
Milo Anderson
Costume Designer
LeRoy J. Prinz
Nathan Levinson
Sound Recordist
Perc Westmore