Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
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Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Starring: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Irene Manning
Yankee Doodle Dandy ranked # 100 on the American Film Institute's Top 100 American Films list.
Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 biographical film about George M. Cohan, starring James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston, Richard Whorf, Irene Manning, George Tobias, Rosemary DeCamp and Jeanne Cagney.
The movie was written by Robert Buckner and Edmund Joseph, and directed by Michael Curtiz. According to the special edition DVD, significant and uncredited improvements were made to the script by the famous "script doctors" twin brothers Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein.
The song "Yankee Doodle Boy" was Cohan's trademark piece, a patriotic pastiche drawing from the lyrics and melody of the old Revolutionary War number, "Yankee Doodle".
Other Cohan tunes in the movie included "Give My Regards to Broadway", "Harrigan", "Mary's a Grand Old Name", "You're a Grand Old Flag" and "Over There".
Although a number of the biographical particulars of the movie are Hollywoodized fiction (omitting the fact that Cohan divorced and remarried, for example, and taking some liberties with the chronology), care was taken to make the sets, costumes and dance steps match the original stage presentations. This effort was aided significantly by a former associate of Cohan's, Jack Boyle, who knew the original productions well. Boyle also appeared in the film in some of the dancing groups.
A popular myth about this movie, or at least a stretching of the truth, was that it was written in response to accusations that James Cagney was a communist. The story is as follows: Cagney learns that he is in danger of being blacklisted for having communist sympathies. Therefore, he decides to make the most jingoistic movie he possibly can, and thus clears his name.
This myth as stated has its chronology a bit askew, as the McCarthy Era did not begin until the early 1950s.
Also the Second Red Scare did not begin until the late 1940s, well after the film was made. In other versions of this legend either Robert Buckner or Edmund Joseph were the accused.
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