Double-Sided One Sheet’s Featured Movie and Poster: Yankee Doodle Dandy
I sat down last night to watch Yankee Doodle Dandy starring James Cagney on Turner Classic Movies. TCM was doing one of those nights where a celebrity programs the movies for the evening’s viewing. The great Angie Dickinson was the celebrity programmer for last night. She picked Yankee Doodle Dandy as one of the films and I am so glad that she did.
For those of you who have never seen it, Yankee Doodle Dandy is the musical movie biography of George M. Cohan. Cohan began his career as a child on vaudeville with his family’s act, The Four Cohans, and then later on as an adult he became an actor, singer, dancer, writer, producer, and director of his own Broadway shows. He became know as “The Man Who Owned Broadway” because at the height of his career as many as five of his productions were playing in different theaters on Broadway at the same time. Cohan was a prolific writer of musical numbers and skits and had started writing for The Four Cohans when he was a child. In his later career, he wrote many famous songs that are still well known today such as “You’re a Grand Old Flag”, “45 Minutes from Broadway”, “Mary is a Grand Old Name”, “I Want To Hear a Yankee Doodle Tune”, and the famous World War I moral booster “Over There.” Whether writing his own works or contributing to the works of other writers, Cohan wrote over 50 plays and musicals in his career. He was also a founding member of ASCAP in 1914. In 1936, he was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Cohan was the first entertainer to ever be given the award. George M. Cohan passed away at the age of 64 on November 5, 1942 leaving a legacy of music and dance that is still with us today.
Cohan lived just long enough to see the brilliant film Yankee Doodle Dandy and the awesome James Cagney doing his stunning portrayal of Cohan in the film. Cagney was already famous as an actor in movies playing an array of gangsters and bad guys. What was not as widely known about him is that he had been a song and dance man in his early career. He proved that he was still a formidable one in Yankee Doodle Dandy. Anyone who had only been exposed to Cagney’s bad guy image must have been gobsmacked when they saw him sing and dance his way brilliantly through Yankee Doodle Dandy. His performance in the film is mesmerizing and his dancing is amazing. During a scene near the end of the film, Cagney casually dances down a staircase and it always looks to me as if he is levitating over those stairs at times. Cagney won the Best Actor Oscar that year for his portrayal of Cohan and he definitely deserved it. Yankee Doodle Dandy is one of the greatest American musical films ever made. If you’ve never seen it, give it a look. I guarantee you’ll come away from it singing and smiling.
The movie poster for the film was created by Bob Gold. This was the first poster he ever designed for the movies and he has had a 70 year career creating movie posters for Hollywood films. Gold has designed many iconic movie posters such as the poster for Casablanca, the poster for Clockwork Orange, and the poster for Alien. His most recent work was for the 2011 Leonardo DiCaprio film J. Edgar. Mr. Gold has worked with many of Hollywood’s most famous directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick, and Ridley Scott.