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Friday, May 15, 2015

Movie Musical Challenge: Yankee Doodle Dandy

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , ,
In Movie Musical Challenge, I'm watching all 25 picks for AFI's Greatest musicals starting from the bottom.  Number 18 is the biographic patriotic spectacle from 1942 - Yankee Doodle Dandy, starring James Cagney.

This film is based on the real life of composer, actor, writer George M. Cohan, and made for an inspiring tale of a self-made man.  The story was told in vignettes almost - with snapshots of each stage of George's life shown.  I'm not even sure where to begin with this muscial, so I'll begin with the lead James Cagney.

I was mostly familiar with James Cagney as sort of a gangster type - it seems like he was in a lot of those roles, but as a song and dance man he did very well in this.  I mean his singing is only so-so though, and his dancing was oddly stiff, but the tap dancing was fantastic.  I think it's just that he played the role with so much charisma that I felt he was wonderful in the part.  And for a character who was conceited and bratty at first, it was great that his character turned around for me.  Since the film shows most of his life, it was also poignant to see how he changed from brash upstart to seasoned, respected professional.

The story was good - sweetly comic - but I was often wondering what the major dramatic moment would be.  Would he have a big falling out with his family?  Cheat on his lovely wife?  Have a breakdown?  Nothing.  The story is just a nice, heart-warming, kinda predictable tale, and I found it hard to understand why it was so highly regarded to rate on this list.  The music - while classics in their own right, and of a genre that I do enjoy - were all kind of similar to me in the end and I didn't really feel that it was such a highlight of this musical.  I can't even pick a scene or song that I would say was a highlight for me.  The title song is perhaps the one that sticks in my mind the most though, but it is the most familiar.  All in all, I think this is a pleasant film, with some elaborately staged musical numbers, but it doesn't seem to me to be worthy of top 25 status.

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