WARNER BROS. has released one of the great films of Hollywood’s past,
“YANKEE DOODLE DANDY”.And, for those out there unfamiliar with the great Jimmy Cagney, “YANKEE DOODLE DANDY” offers a perfect example of the great actor at his best. The film is much more than a musical-spectacle.
Sure, there are some great musical sequences, but it’s also an example of
Hollywood craftsmanship at its best. The direction, writing, cinematography and performances are all first-rate, offering a careful blend of humor and sentimentality that just doesn’t exist anymore. Like “IT’S A
WONDERFUL LIFE”, just because it’s corny, doesn’t mean it’s not great!
Cagney plays the legendary showman/songwriter George M. Cohan, and
through a series of flashbacks, the audience gets to look at the man’s
beginnings, failings(not many!), comebacks and other trials and tribulations.
Cohan was a talented writer and showman, but he was also a family
man, and the film offers a nostalgic look at a Norman Rockwell-like era that
could really benefit America to escape to during the current horrors of the
It’s also unabashedly patriotic, and let’s face it “OVER THERE” and
those other songs do make one proud to be an American, and they’re not bad songs!
WARNER BROS. has presented the correct full-frame aspect ratio for
this release. Of course, there are some flaws relating to wear and tear,
but the black&white image is sharp! It’s the best looking image we’ve seen of it yet, and far superior to any television broadcast in recent history.
WARNER BROS. has presented a Dolby Digital 1.0 mix. While the musical
numbers lack the fidelity we’d have loved, there’s no sign of hiss or
distortion. Dialogue is always intelligible.
WARNER BROS. has provided some great extras for this release. An
audio commentary with film historian Rudy Behlmer, is offered. With so
many mediocre commentaries coming out for practically every type of
release, it’s refreshing to hear one wherein there’s really something of substance being discussed. Behlmer is the kind of historian/commentator who makes one want to hang on to every word. He’s great, as is the commentary!
WARNER BROS. has thrown in some other great extras in order to make
this a special edition. Leonard Maltin introduces these extras, which
include a trailer for “CASABLANCA”, a newreel, a short film and a great Bugs Bunny cartoon. We only hope Warner Bros. will continue to release these kinds of setups for all of their other classic releases!
We also get trailers for several other Cagney films. The 2nd disc
offers a lengthy documentary about Cagney, narrated by Michael J. Fox. It’s a bit corny, but entertaining all the same.
“LET FREEDOM SING!: THE STORY OF YANKEE DOODLE DANDY” is a fairly lengthy
documentary about the film’s production. While it looks at the film
production, it also explores WARNER BROS and the real life of Cohan.
“JOHN TRAVOLTA REMEMBERS CAGNEY” offers a brief commentary from Travolta about the great actor. Not bad, but “why”?
“LOONEY TOONS” offers two cartoons, both of which are terrific and
certain to delight young and old!
One of the best (of many)supplements is “YOU, JOHN JONES” a short
film with Cagney and Margaret O’Brien.
Add to this even more extras with audio outtakes and still galleries,
and “YANKEE DOODLE DANDY” is one of the best special editions to come out all year!