The next movie in the State Theatre’s “Classic Film Series” is a 1940s era flick featuring the talented James Cagney in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”
Known for playing the tough guy in acting roles, Cagney lights up the stage in the “change-of-pace” role in the film that depicts the story of the life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer, and singer George M. Cohan.
In the film, Cohen (Cagney) recalls his early days to President Roosevelt after being summoned to the White House where he is presented with a Congressional Gold Medal.
The film flashes back to his supposed birth on July 4, where his father is performing on the vaudeville stage.
As the film continues, Cohan and his sister join the family act as soon as they can learn to dance, and it isn’t long before The Four Cohans are performing successfully.
There are some bumps in the road as Cohan gets a little too cocky and he gets blacklisted at one point, but fate has other plans as his star eventually begins to raise again.
Cohan was the composer of the American battle hymn of World War I, “Over There” and the writer of the song, “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” the namesake of the film.
The IMDb website said Cagney was one of Hollywood’s preeminent male stars of all time, as well as an accomplished dancer, and easily played light comedy.
The website’s trivia added that Cagney’s performance as George M. Cohan in “Yankee Doodle Dandy” (1942) is ranked sixth on Premiere magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
The film itself is ranked number 88 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time.
Top Critic Bosley Crowther with the “New York Times” said, “You will find as warm and delightful a musical picture as has hit the screen in years, a corking good entertainment and as affectionate, if not as accurate, a film biography as has ever — yes, ever — been made.”
Top Critic Roger Ebert with the “Chicago Sun-Times” said in 2000 that “The greatness of the film resides entirely in the Cagney performance.”
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film’s tomatometer, which is the critics’ rating, is at 92 percent with the audience score a high 83 percent.
The film is scheduled for July 19. The last film in this season’s series is “Gone With the Wind” (Aug. 16). Showtimes are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students.