Yankee Doodle Dandy Movie Review
Yankee Doodle Dandy is a 1942 drama musical film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring James Cagney in the lead role. It is regularly sited as being one of the finest films of the 1940s, but in my opinion it is quite lackluster and overrated.
It is a biographical film about singer, dancer and producer George M. Cohan and it tells its story through flashbacks. It starts with the ending with the character reminiscing on the past in a chat with the president and it ends that way. That structure is undeniably very appealing. The beginning is great and the ending is terrific and definitely the highlight, tying the movie perfectly. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie falls flat and is just another going through the decades biopic that I am not fond of. The musical numbers are very entertaining and executed in a good way, but they tend to take over the whole picture too much to the point of being more like a theatre instead of a motion picture. And although there are some quite effervescent moments to be found here, there is never enough of it and most of the movie just goes through the motions without emotional investment present.
The characters are mostly underdeveloped. The protagonist is the best here of course, but even he needed more development and his behavior is sometimes too off-putting and annoying. All of the other characters never get a moment to shine. But the acting is excellent without a doubt with everyone giving quite a solid performance, but naturally James Cagney being the highlight in a role much different from his usual ones. But he somehow fitted the part and he did an excellent job tonally and he is a great dancer which was quite a surprise for me. He is definitely the movie’s strongest aspect.
The movie is quite well directed by Michael Curtiz, but is badly edited with musical numbers tending to go for too long while some parts are rushed as well. It is well shot and overall very well made and of course acted, but neither the cinematography nor the directing are never as great as they should have been. But the ending is wonderfully done, warm and very satisfying and the music in the movie is mostly good with nice dancing accompanied with it. The dialogue is solid but the tone is not handled well, it is too comedic and unserious in tone and although the humor is okay for the most part, it is never particularly good and the movie should have been way more dramatic.