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Monday, July 4, 2011

A Couple of Yankee Doodle Dandies

For readers of High Concepts outside of the United States, today, the Fourth of July, is our Independence Day. Which has set me to thinking: what are my favorite Fourth of July movies?

On my shortlist would be Frank Capra’s 1939 film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, starring Jimmy Stewart and Jean Arthur, as well as the 2008 HBO mini-series John Adams, adapted from the best-selling biography by David McCullough. John Adams is directed by Tom Hooper and stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. 

But after watching yesterday—I admit, shamefacedly, for the first time—Jimmy Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy, I have a new favorite. Released in 1942, Yankee Doodle Dandy is the story of American actor, singer, dancer, composer, lyricist, and Broadway impresario, George M. Cohan. I also must admit that I knew nothing about Cohan before seeing this film, not even that Cohan was the composer of such American popular standards as “She’s A Grand Old Flag,” “The Yankee Doodle Boy,” “Give My Regards to Broadway,” and “Over There.”

Both Cohan and Cagney are American treasures. Here's a picture of Cohan...

After watching the movie I had fun looking up Cohan's and Cagney's Catholic connections—which, if you’re interested, you can learn about here (Cohan’s 1942 New York Times obituary), and here (a web-page from St. Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church, Cagney’s parish church in New York).

What are the favorite Fourth of July movies on your list?

God Bless, America!



  1. I can think of none better than "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Though I haven't seen it in years, I love the scene (I think it's towards the end of the movie) when when Cohan leaves the White House and encounters a groups of soldiers marching along and singing "Over There." Cohan starts marching along with the soldiers and one of soldiers wonders why the old man isn't singing, doesn't he know the words? I always catch myself thinking: if only that soldier knew...great movie!

  2. "My father thanks mother thanks sister thanks you...and most of all, I thank you!"